A few weeks ago I was adamant that I wasn't going anywhere near this match given the clear lack of effort from the players under Messers Groves and Brooks. Since then the management team has changed, the level of effort has changed and as a result a trip to the Keepmoat seemed more appealing after all even with an 0530 start and the 0708 train from sunny Fratton beckoning for this reporter!
After meeting up with Ann in at New Street and the other Exiles in the pub in Doncaster for a beer or three, it was off to the game in anticipation of half decent performance. Sadly the quality of the match was anything but stimulating. Donny (6th!) hardly belied their position while the Cherries with a greater level of inventiveness were not creating a huge number of chances either, but were at least prepared to have a go and shoot.
The goal, when it came in the 38th minute was not expected. Arter had the ball top/centre of the penalty area but was being bumped and jostled slightly, but seemed to spur him in to a little bit of trickery in to finding sufficient space for a shot, which somehow managed to bobble past the Rovers keeper. It'll be one of those efforts which doesn't look any better after a replay or in slow motion and one the keeper will want to forget!
With chances few and far between, it is worth mentioning that the Cherries can now demonstrate a level of grit and determination we've not seen for a while. This new found spirit is typified by Harry Arter who ran his socks off, and more, in the Cherries cause as he harried, blocked and generally made a nuisance of himself across every inch of the pitch. All of which meant that Doncaster were restricted to ONE shot on target and ONE corner throughout the 90 minutes in what must have been a painful afternoon for the locals.
The Cherries create a number of half chances, which if on target would have seen the lead extended, but it was one of those afternoons when just the one goal was more than enough to seal the win.
James - had virtually nothing to do other some occassional catching practice.
Cook - always great to see Cook in the starting line up. Gave his all this afternoon deputising for Francis.
Elphick - showed his quality this afternoon
Addison - lumps it forward a bit too often for my liking
Daniels - made a few mistakes in choice of pass, needs to tighten up in this department
Grabban - was surprised he lasted the 90 minutes. Was half expecting Grabban to be replaced by Thomas.
MacDonald - Is striking up a decent partnership with Arter. Played well this afternoon without excelling.
Arter - ran his socks off this afternoon and easily my man of the match for sheer work rate and endeavour
Pugh - had 2/3 players marking him out for most of the match, but managed to cause a few problems.
Barnard - didn't create too much. Will he be here in January?
McQuoid - Put in a decent shift this afternoon
Thomas - great to see Thomas get on the pitch after his recent spell at Fratton Park. Had half a sniff of a goal.
Fogden - With his low centre of gravity he's proving to be a little terrier while on the pitch.
Fletcher - wasn't on long enough to make a major impact!
AFCB: James, Cook, Addison, Elphick, Daniels, Grabban, MacDonald, Arter, Pugh, Barnard, McQuoid
Subs: Jalal, McDermott, O'Kane, Tubbs, Thomas (for McQuoid, 71 mins), Fogden (for Barnard, 79 mins), Fletcher (for Grabban, 90 mins)
Andy Burton, Portsmouth