Remember 1991? That’s a long time ago. In fact that was the last time we did the league double over the hooped ones from down the road. However, we now have a great chance for a bit of gloating this weekend having won at their place and on such a good run under our twin caretakers.
Also Donny have hit a bit of a difficult spell, having not won in their last four league games and lost the last two, both at home. If anything was set up for a Scunny win, this is it – though having said that, this is United we are talking about, so falling flat on our faces is also a possibility.
The Ferguson revolution hasn’t quite taken off at the Keepmoat. Sir Alex’s son has lifted Donny out of the relegation danger they were in when he took over in October, but he hasn’t so much made a statement as produced a stalemate: seven league games won, seven lost and four drawn.
In an effort to shore up their defence, the transfer window saw them bring in goalkeeper Chris Neal on a month’s loan from Port Vale and he was quick to say all the right things about his new club as soon as he arrived. “I think it is a fantastic squad here,” he said loyally but perhaps a bit blindly. “This month coming up is an important month. If you look at the fixtures coming up, they are all teams in and around us. With some good points this month there is no reason why we can’t be pushing towards those play-off places.”
Scunny are two points ahead of Rovers in the table with a game in hand, and Doncaster’s 2-1 home defeat to promotion-chasing Walsall gives a clue to some of Rovers’ problems. “We’re giving away games we should not be losing,” said Darren Ferguson. “I don’t think my goalkeeper’s had much to do at all.It was too easy for them. They’ve not had to work for it. We’re giving too many sloppy goals away.”
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There were shades of the Barrie Thomas saga in promotion-chasing Burton’s decision on Monday to sell their top scorer in January. However, manager Nigel Clough insisted that allowing Nasser El Khayati to reunite with former manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink at QPR would not affect their challenge.
“We think it was a good enough deal for the club,” said Clough of the eight-goal striker (no comparison with Thomas there, though!).
“He was the top scorer but we’ve had eight or nine games [since replacing Hasselbaink] and he hasn’t scored in that time. We sat down with the chairman and if it’s one of those that you think is going to totally and utterly wreck your promotion hopes, then you don’t do it. We don’t think that’s the case.”
Elsewhere in League One, there was a cheery recognition of away fans by Southend manager Phil Brown after his 10-man team won 2-1 at Shrewsbury on Tuesday to move up to seventh.
Of the 231 fans who made the 384-mile round trip Brown said: “Tuesday night at Shrewsbury in the middle of winter, my word you have to be an absolute stalwart of a supporter. I would like to buy every one of them a pint on their way home if I could.” We say, let’s see it happen.