By Mark Gullett (Doncaster Rovers supporter)
The summer rumours that Rovers were to get a Manchester United striker on loan finally came to fruition with the arrival of Federico Macheda, initially for a one-month period. We’d been hoping for Nick Powell but I don’t mind saying I wasn’t the only one more than a little impressed by Kiko’s arrival. Many remember him bursting onto the scene in the Villa game and we we’re hopeful he could regain that kind of form for us. I’m sure all at Rovers would like to extend their thanks to David Moyes and Manchester United for the favour.
Watford 2-1 Doncaster Rovers – Tuesday, 17 September 2013
Rovers went into this Tuesday evening game unchanged from the weekend’s draw at Huddersfield, with Kiko replacing Billy Paynter on the bench. A cagey start from both sides was shattered after 13 minutes when McGugan fired in for Watford from 25 yards, but their lead was wiped out just three minutes later when Almunia (remember him?) failed to collect and Chris Brown was on hand to smash home the Rovers equaliser. Chances were few and far between for both sides for the rest of the half.
The second half started slowly with Paul Dickov deciding to up the ante in the 57th minute by replacing Cotterill with our new loanee. However, it was Watford who began to dominate proceedings with a combination of poor finishing and Ross Turnbull in goal denying the home side. Rovers were playing with three strikers on the pitch but failed to create much for any of them. Macheda’s first and only chance came on 82 minutes when Coppinger slipped the ball to him, but his shot from just outside the area went wide. Just as the travelling faithful were starting to believe we’d earned an invaluable away point, Watford got a deserved winner (albeit from a dodgy penalty). Husband brought down Forestieri a full yard outside the Rovers box and McGugan made no mistake from the spot for his second goal of the game.
Not the dream debut for Kiko we’d all hoped for but on balance Zola’s Watford did enough to deserve the win and won’t be far off the Premiership come next May.
Doncaster Rovers 2-2 Nottingham Forest – Saturday, 21 September 2013
Near perfect conditions saw Paul Dickov give Macheda his first start in a Rovers shirt for the visit of high-flying Forest. Fed was on the left of a three pronged attack, with Theo Robinson on the right and Chris Brown leading the line in the centre. An ambitious attacking setup against a side bang in form.
The game started brightly with both sides quickly out of the blocks, but it was Forest who created the better chances. The Rovers defence held firm though, and in the 25th minute a cross from Wabara was half cleared to Macheda, but his shot was easily saved by Darlow in the Forest goal. Ten minutes later however came the moment we’d been waiting for. The Forest defence were caught napping as Theo Robinson raced through the middle with only one defender to beat, but he coolly slid the ball to his left where an advancing Macheda met it sweetly to slot into the bottom right corner. The lead lasted just five minutes as Forest came forward again, Reid feeding Cohen on the left edge of the area who curled the ball beautifully into the far top corner to send the sides into half time honours even.
The second half began with Rovers kicking towards the South Stand and we didn’t have to wait long before once again Forest’s defence were caught out. A quick break again, this time with Wellens delivering the perfect pass from the right wing into the path of Macheda who calmly slid the ball past Darlow from six yards out for his second. His celebrations earned him a booking for jumping over the hoardings into an ecstatic crowd but hey, we’ll give him that one. Being behind once again woke Forest up as they continued to press. With twenty minutes to go Kiko was given a standing ovation from three sides of the ground as he was replaced by Coppinger. Forest continued to create chances and the inevitable equaliser came in the 81st minute when the impressive Andy Reid smashed the ball past Turnbull from 20 yards out. A draw seemed a fair result in the end, with Rovers matching one of the teams fancied for promotion this season.
A near-perfect home debut for the Manchester United loanee, who’s deft touches and striker’s instinct for being in the right place at the right time earned him nothing but praise from the fans.
Sheffield Wednesday 0-1 Doncaster Rovers – Saturday, 28 September 2013
An unchanged Rovers made the short trip to Sheffield for our second Yorkshire derby of the season. A sunny and warm afternoon greeted the teams as they came out for what was largely an uneventful first half. Wednesday created a few chances but didn’t really trouble the Rovers goal.
The second half started a little better with both sides coming close to breaking the deadlock, but it was Rovers who got the upper hand on 71 minutes, when Coppinger cut inside from the left and placed the ball onto the waiting Macheda’s head. The in-form striker gratefully accepted his chance and his header flew off the underside of the bar past a helpless Chris Kirkland (remember him?). Wednesday’s best chance came ten minutes later but Keegan (not that one) cleared off the Rovers goal line following a corner. Fed was replaced by Mark Duffy on 83 minutes, the striker again coming off to a rapturous round of applause from the travelling fans. Desperate times at Hillsborough saw Kirkland come up for a corner in stoppage time and he was almost undone when the ball fell to Duffy near the halfway line, but his speculative effort went wide of the unguarded goal. Shortly afterwards the referee blew for fulltime and Rovers had their second win of the campaign (and their 4th successive win over their more illustrious local rivals).