Pompey v Doncaster Rovers: the opposition view

Doncaster Rovers striker John Marquis
Doncaster Rovers striker John Marquis
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I would say the season has pretty much gone as expected for Doncaster.

I still can’t quite figure out how they didn’t win League Two last season.

Regardless, some people were quite excited about potentially pulling off back-to-back promotions.

Having said that, it was always going to be tough to expect a young side to make the step up and challenge.

The climb is a bit bigger than a lot suspected.

Still, stability has been a key aim following the return to League One and, after struggling a bit early on, they have played well most of the season and are presently in 14th spot.

Rovers have not turned enough good performances into wins, drawing 10 times, and are most likely going to finish mid-table.

To prepare themselves for League One, nothing really changed in the summer in terms of recruitment.

Midfielder Ben Whiteman became permanent from Sheffield United, while Jordan Houghton was again loaned by Chelsea, but very little altered.

Alex Kiwomya, though, was recruited from Chelsea permanently, yet has been sidelined by a rare auto-immune disorder.

However, he will be in the squad against Pompey for an expected debut.

Meanwhile, it has been an odd season for John Marquis – last season’s 26-goal striker.

Back then everything he touched became a goal, he had so much confidence, but that has completely evaporated and his finishing has been affected.

Having said that, he scored in the 3-1 defeat against Bristol Rovers last weekend and it was the perfect goal for him, with the ball coming in and a finish which didn’t require thinking about.

Marquis has netted eight times this season, which is better than it sounds, but he should have a lot more and be in double figures considering the chances he’s missed. It’s surprising.

However, he continues to lead the line exceptionally well, with superb work-rate.

There remains a lot of pressure on him to score the goals, no-one else appears to be doing it.

In terms of players impressing this season, Whiteman has been very good. He has a great pass, drives forward, is strong and can dictate a game from the middle or come forward and shoot.

James Coppinger still has it. He turned 37 a few weeks ago and remains a regular, the captain and one of the first names on the team-sheet.

Andy Butler has also enjoyed a good season, but he is presently out for five or six weeks with a knee injury.