View From T'Other Side: Doncaster Rovers

Last updated : 27 March 2010 By Rob Miles (BarnsleyBoy)

This is a big game in its own right with it being a big South Yorkshire derby and both teams being close together in the table but many Barnsley fans place more emphasis on matches with Doncaster after the five batterings handed to us in League One. After three successive victories for The Reds, do Rovers fans also see this as a massive game?

Yes definitely. There is a sense amongst us that we've not really done ourselves justice in the past few games. At the Keepmoat this season the performance was quite good, but we didn't take the good chances we had and a good goal cost us in the end. I think being quite similar in most aspects, we see this as the main rival in this division. The two Sheffield clubs have the bigger crowds but everything with us and Barnsley seems quite similar, be that crowds, finances or hatred for the Sheffield clubs and Leeds.

In terms of the season and league placings, what do you feel this match means for both teams? Do Rovers still harbour hopes of the play-offs, or is this set to just go a long way to deciding which side finishes highest in midtable?

I think it's the latter. The play offs are a long shot and it's all about finishing as high as possible really. A win for Barnsley draws us level, a win for us goes a long way to creating a bit of a gap in the top half. There’s no doubt for both sides that finishing comfortably mid table is progress on last season and even the first 15 games of this season.

I also remember Rovers fans criticising Sean O’Driscoll in his early days as Rovers manager, has that changed now after what he’s achieved for the club?

In many respects some of the criticism was justified. We were underperforming and Sean was still learning. He'll admit that he's still learning new things now. He was getting some things wrong and that criticism was fully justified at the time. There was no way we should have been near the bottom of League One at the time, but unlike most managers SOD put up with the criticism and took some of it on board. He's willing to change and that's a big positive about him. He still gets things wrong now, but the fans have come to accept that he'll not always get it right. There is a minority who still don't like the way he plays, but that's going to happen with every manager. I think most agree that he's been an inspired choice and that his philosophy of keeping the club stable is sensible.

Rovers are known as one of the best footballing sides in the division- the Arsenal of the Championship if you like- but do you feel that this sometimes hinders Rovers especially against more physical sides, and in games such as the meeting between the two sides at the Keepmoat in October when you played us off the park in terms of passing but still lost?

Occasionally it can do, but we have seen a big improvement on that this season. Listening to SOD's interviews, it's noticeable how he talks about us having weaknesses, but specifically training how to deal with them. He studies everything and mentioned a few weeks back how it's the second ball from corners/long throws etc that is often the goalscoring one. We set up to use our positives to deal with our negatives. This is all well and good but it does mean we concede the odd goal that perhaps we wouldn't with more strength. We tried to change it and it's just typical that our physical players have spent a lot of time injured this season (Lockwood, Shackell, Brooker). That's a big problem when you have a squad with much less depth.

Billy Sharp has had an excellent season on loan from Sheffield United and Reds boss Mark Robins has expressed an interest in the striker. How much hope do you have Rovers can land him permanently in the summer?

He suits us and we suit him, it's as simple as that. If you look at his goals, they're nothing special, it tends to be the ball in that is most important and that's a testament to our midfield play. He gets in the box and stays there. He's proven he can do that role and being the top scoring striker in the division, of course we'd all love him here. The most important thing is that we don't go and blow the club on transfer fees and wages. We have to let other clubs do that and it's far more important to keep the club stable. If we can get him, great. If not we'll get someone else.  SOD and the scouts have proven that we can replace players cheaply who can help us progress. The sales of Mills/Wellens proved that.

Will he be your main man on Saturday or are there others to look out for?

In terms of his all round play he'll be important, but without good midfield players then Sharp may as well not play, we've seen that at Sheff Utd. Oster, Coppinger and the two full backs are the key players. The creativity comes through them. If we don't get the full backs forward we'll lose width and that's quite key for us. Gareth Roberts at left back has been key at both ends of the field and Oster has been outstanding in a central midfield role. He's the most key I feel for us. But the way we play, it's more about the team than individuals.

What have you made of Barnsley under the stewardship of Robins this season?

Pretty solid. He had the initial great start as a new manager, though you seem to have been a bit inconsistent since then. I think it was easier when he knew a little about the squad but results seem to have wavered a little since he started playing around every week. As long as he keeps you up then it has to be a successful season. Next season is the one to judge him when it really is his squad. I think the defence is your main weakness and that'll be something we'll hope to get stuck into tomorrow.

And who do you see as our dangermen?

I think there's a few. Bogdanovic looks a good striker up front, plenty of good goals from him, Hammill was your best player at the Keepmoat and Anderson was the game changer when he came on. He had a big influence in midfield. If we can keep those three quiet then we've done a good job.

Score Prediction for the weekend?

2-2. Neither defence looks that strong at the moment and both can be got at. Both will want the win so it should be entertaining and controversial (our games always are). No doubt the referee will have a big influence on the game also. Could be won by the odd goal though, and it's quite a close game to choose the winner. I certainly won't be having any result on my accumulator.

Where do you see both sides finishing come May?

Pretty close. I think both teams will be bang on mid table. Somewhere between 8th and 14th. I think we'll just edge it over you though, I wouldn't be a Rovers fan if I didn’t say that.