Rovers have been unlucky this season
2 May ~ Doncaster Rovers have spent only two weeks of this season in the Championship relegation places. Yet come the final whistle on Saturday afternoon they could find themselves following Yeovil and Barnsley down into the third tier. Over recent months we have consoled ourselves with the notion that we will be OK as there is always another team who get dragged into the relegation places at the death. Now, without a win in seven matches, the realisation is dawning – that team could well be us.
Rovers travel to face champions Leicester knowing they must at least match Birmingham's result at Bolton if they are to stay in the second tier. A draw could be good enough should Millwall lose by two or more goals at home to Bournemouth. The feeling among supporters that Rovers never do things the easy way has been somewhat enforced by a second successive season coming down to the last day.
Two years ago, when Rovers dropped after four seasons in the Championship, it came as a relief to many. While no one wants to see their team relegated, at least that return to League One brought the end of the much maligned "experiment" in player recruitment and allowed us to start afresh. Should Doncaster be relegated this time round, while it would not be a disaster, it would certainly feel somewhat premature.
When appointed last summer, manager Paul Dickov was dealt a tough hand – tasked with keeping a side up on one of the division's lowest budgets. That hand duly got tougher through long-term injuries to key players and a very public boardroom wrangling; the latter only ending with the departure of long-term chairman John Ryan. However, Dickov has carried himself admirably and recruited effectively. Additions including defenders Bongani Khumalo and Abdoulaye Méïté, goalkeepers Ross Turnbull and Sam Johnstone, and Richie Wellens in midfield, have made the team both competitive and entertaining to watch.
Scoring goals however has remained a problem. This looked to have been resolved by the return of Billy Sharp on loan in January, but sadly he has been a shadow of his former self. On internet forums many supporters have suggested that Dickov should go at the season's end, but personally I feel poor luck and difficult circumstances outweigh poor judgement and he deserves another shot, whichever division that comes in.
At the denouement of any season it is natural to look back at "what if?" moments and for Rovers the half-time abandonment of a game which they led 3-1 at Charlton in August is high on that list. But ultimately it is due to Doncaster's failure to take chances that fans will be following the events at Bolton as closely as those in Leicester this Saturday. Glen Wilson