Sam Johnstone Loan Watch 2013-14: March At Doncaster Rovers

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By Mark Gullett (Doncaster Rovers supporter)

AFC Bournemouth 5-0 Doncaster Rovers – Saturday, 1 March 2014

Rovers again made a long trip down to the nether regions of the country, this time to face the side who we famously denied the League One championship in the last minute of last season.

Then we made the even longer trip (or so it seemed) home, and that’s all I’m going to say about this game!

Doncaster Rovers 2-0 Huddersfield Town – Saturday, 8 March 2014

Rovers made four changes to the side following the battering at Bournemouth and they took a deserved lead half an hour in through Billy Sharp. Huddersfield thought they had an equaliser as half time loomed but Johnstone saved well and from the resulting corner was thankful to Paul Keegan who headed Gerrard’s (not that one) effort off the line.

Sam was called into action again immediately after the break, palming Wells’ effort round the post for a corner. Cotterill calmed the nerves after 55 minutes when he poked home Chris Brown’s low cross and Rovers went on to keep the visitors at bay for the rest of the game.

Another assured performance from the goalkeeper and by now Rovers fans were really starting to sing his praises, with many wondering if Ross Turnbull would actually be able to get the shirt back once he was fit! That in itself is a huge compliment to the lad as Turnbull had been outstanding for us before his injury.

Doncaster Rovers 2-1 Watford – Tuesday, 11 March 2014

More injuries to the defence saw James Coppinger having to stand in at right back for the Rovers, as they went out to try and pull away from the relegation zone. Twenty minutes in and the visitors went down to ten men when Ranegie was daft enough to kick out at James Husband right in front of the referee. Rovers made the visitors pay minutes later when they took the lead through Chris Brown.

The ten men hit back after the break though when Anya gave Johnstone no chance as he slotted the ball past him from close range. It was all Rovers after that however, with Watford happy to take a point, given the circumstances, but Rovers had the final say in stoppage time as Sharp found the net to send the home fans away delirious.

Not much to do for Sam in this game but what he did do he did well.

Nottingham Forest 0-0 Doncaster Rovers – Saturday, 15 March 2014

Rovers made the short trip down to Nottingham full of confidence following their previous two games and should have continued their winning ways in a game they largely dominated against a stuttering Forest side. Forest had a couple of chances but Sam Johnstone once again did an excellent impression of the team bus parked in front of goal to keep his third clean sheet in eight games.

Doncaster Rovers 1-0 Wednesday – Saturday, 22 March 2014

Another clean sheet for Rovers saw them deservedly see off their rivals from down the M18 in a game they dominated. By now I think everyone in the Rovers’ ends had completely forgotten just how young and inexperienced our keeper was and kind of expected him to play a blinder every game. Well he didn’t disappoint once again, pulling off more impressive saves. Now we’re wondering what the lad is doing next season, as there’s a warm welcome back awaiting him if he hasn’t done enough to impress Mr Moyles into giving him a chance as a number 2 next season!

Play was stopped for a few minutes towards the end of the game after a nasty looking injury to the youngster, but he recovered well to finish the game in style. So hard as nails as well as a top keeper!

Burnley 2-0 Doncaster Rovers – Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Rovers held their own against high flying Burnley in the first half, thanks largely to Sam Johnstone in goal making a series of terrific saves as halftime approached to frustrate the home side and fans. Not to be undone though, Burnley took a deserved lead shortly after the interval when Vokes slammed a penalty high into the net from the spot following a push from Coppinger on Duff, giving the keeper no chance whatsoever. The lead was doubled with ten minutes remaining when Stanislas was through one on one and calmly slotted past the advancing keeper.

A game Burnley fully deserved to win and the score was only kept low by the outstanding young keeper from Manchester United.

Leeds United 1-2 Doncaster Rovers – Saturday, 29 March 2014

A busy month for Rovers ended with a short trip to the troubled Leeds United. No mercy from the Rovers though as a spectacular goal from David Cotterill put them one up after 20 minutes. A first half which Rovers completely dominated saw them go into the break two up as in stoppage time Billy Sharp rolled his man and slotted into the corner of the net following a series of 28 passes. Leeds almost hit back instantly, but McCormack’s effort was blocked by Johnstone on the line and put out for a corner.

After being booed off at halftime by a section of the home support, Leeds came out looking like a different team in the second half, and got their reward with an hour on the clock when McCormack fired home following a free kick. Rovers however held out for the win, again largely thanks to outstanding work from the defence and the keeper.

So, all in all, the youngster looks to be enjoying his time at Doncaster, and we are certainly enjoying having him here! All the better that his loan has been extended until the end of the season and to be perfectly honest I can’t see Ross Turnbull getting the shirt back this season barring an injury to this outstanding keeper. Johnstone isn’t just an outstanding prospect anymore, he’s the real deal, and at such a young age too. Thank you very much Mr Moyes and all at Man United for letting us have him!

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Mark is a member of the Viking Supporters Co-operative forum.
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