Expected consolidation this season
6 April ~ Like many other Doncaster supporters, I was looking forward to a season of consolidation on our return to League One. After the arduous disaster of last year's relegation, played out with agent Willie McKay's back-of-a-fag-packet "experiment" in player recruitment and structure, all I was really hoping from 2012-13 was some time in which to dust ourselves down and start again. Instead, and quite remarkably, with three weeks left to go in Doncaster are at the top of the table as they welcome Tranmere Rovers to the Keepmoat Stadium.
While Doncaster may have been best placed of the relegated Championship clubs to make an immediate return to the second tier, this was more a status bestowed by the respective problems at Coventry and Portsmouth than of any in-built stability.
Twenty players exited Rovers in the summer and in their place Dean Saunders established a League One squad that was strong in ability but lacking depth. Thankfully injuries and suspensions were, for the most part, avoided in the season's opening months, allowing Doncaster to keep pace with the promotion hopefuls into the New Year. With a team boasting a solid backline and pace going forwards, Saunders played a counter-attacking style which brought impressive results away, including inflicting a first home defeat of the calendar year on today's opponents in October. The team were often hard to watch at home, however, as opponents also sat back.
In January Saunders took the opportunity to move to Wolves but with the experienced Brian Flynn promoted from scouting duties to management the team lost little momentum. Despite a blip in February, Doncaster went top of the table at the end of that month, a position in which they have remained ever since. That the top spot was secured via a first win in six matches highlights the reluctance of any one side to take control of this division since Tranmere fell away from their own leading position a couple of months ago.
During that five-game February wobble some fans raised questions over Flynn's appointment, with a 3-0 defeat in Milton Keynes causing knee-jerk anger. Since then impressive wins over fellow promotion candidates Bournemouth and Swindon have stemmed the criticism, as have the loan signings of Dean Furman from Oldham and Everton's John Lundstram, plugging an injury-hit central midfield at a key point in the season.
Regardless of how the promotion race pans out, this has proved to be a very enjoyable season for Doncaster Rovers fans, with McKay's departure and a more active role for the supporters' trust enabling us to revel in getting our club back. That said, a win today would offer a large stride towards promotion. Glen Wilson, Popular Stand