Aston Villa - Glensider At Doncaster
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Doncaster Rovers 0 - Aston Villa 0

Keepmoat Stadium


Attendance: 13 517

Glensider At Doncaster

It certainly couldn't be classed as a return to the scene of the crime, new stadium as the venue and all that, but for those of us who remember only too well that depressing, humiliating, still all too recent League Cup reversal at the hands of Doncaster Rovers Football Club, and the long drive home afterwards, filled with miles spent questioning and debating where, how, and why it had all gone wrong for David O'Learys troops, there were certainly a few nervy looks as we climbed into the car to head off to South Yorkshire and The Keepmoat Stadium on Saturday morning.

Surprisingly, we all seemed pretty confident of a successful outcome though, or so we claimed, three of us predicting victory, while the fourth, normally the most confident of the bunch, went for the draw and a Villa Park replay. All that matters is that we're in the draw for the fifth round we all agreed, and taking our recent form as a guideline, that was surely well within our capabilities.

Arriving at The Keepmoat Stadium, a much more spectator friendly looking structure than its predecessor Belle Vue, we learned that Martin had named a pretty decent looking starting line-up, and we were all pleased and somewhat relieved to hear that, believing that we would underestimate todays opponents only at our peril.

With the exception of our collection of players injured or suspended, plus of course new signing Emile Heskey, Mart fielded arguably our strongest possible line-up:-

Friedel, Davies, Cuellar, Knight, Shorey, Reo-Coker (Gardner 69min), Sidwell, Petrov, Barry, Milner, Agbonlahor.

Gabby fired wastefully wide early on, when a mix-up in the home defence gave him a reasonable opportunity, then Rovers themselves missed a glorious opening, Roberts shooting wide with the goal at his mercy.

The uneven, muddy surface certainly didn't suit either side, but even allowing for that, we didn't look anything like a premiership team with serious aspirations of landing a top four finish, and in the first half we only managed to create one more decent opportunity, the veteran keeper Sullivan coming up with a fine reaction save to deny Gabby from close range, while Woods struck the bar from 20 yards with a left footed shot, after a poor Cuellar back-pass had put unnecessary pressure on Brad to hoof the ball clear.

Throughout the opening forty-five minutes we had really struggled to find any rhythm or tempo, and our below par performance had allowed Rovers to grow in stature as the half wore on.

It was around the hour mark that we started to get our act together, and for the first time in the game, it looked as if we were actually capable of taking control.

Sullivan became the Rovers hero as he denied James Milner twice within a matter of minutes, and then superbly tipped away Zat Knights downward header, a header that had 'goal' written all over it.

Both Stevie Sidwell and James Milner had opportunities to at least test Sullivan, but put their headers wide, and then Gabby was sent clear yet scooped his effort onto the bar with the traveling faithfull behind the goal expecting to burst into celebration.

It looked like it was just one of those days, but with the game heading for a Villa Park replay, the home lot came so close to breaking the deadlock and creating the upset of the round.

Woods struck the left-hand post with a curling 25-yard free-kick, that had Brad Friedel completely beaten all ends up.

A collective huge sigh of relief from the visiting Villans. That was mighty close.

So, we're back to Villa Park, to do it all over again. Doncaster probably deserved their replay, although they, like us, could no doubt have done without the extra game.

Right, my marks out of ten:-

Player Ratings

Friedel - 6


Cuellar - 5


Davies - 6


Knight - 6


Shorey - 6


Reo-Coker - 7


Petrov - 7


Sidwell - 5


Barry - 6


Milner - 6


Gabby - 6


Gardner - 5

On for NRC - 70 mins.

The Journalist

Writer: Glensider Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday January 25 2009

Time: 9:48AM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
Great report - expect nothing less from you Sir Glen of the Sider. Some low marks there. Cuellar, not impressing really is he? Sidwell I thought this game was tailor made for him but that missed header of his looked easier to get on target. He's had time to settle in now, he HAS to start doing it for us. Think he could be great but he's got to do it. The away goal v Wigan was great so he certainly can do it! Anyway, we live to fight another day. Cool.
The Fear
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25/01/2009 09:56:00

Once again - thanks Glensider. Two questions arise - how much was Ashley Young missed and did the return of Shorey weaken the left side still further? Are we really a one man team, over dependent on Ashley Young's pace and skill?
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25/01/2009 09:59:00

Couldn't agree more about Sidwell Fear, the guys just not performing in my eyes...The fact that he couldn't hit water if he fell out of a boat doesn't really help an attacking midfielder.
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25/01/2009 10:30:00

Watching from a Doncaster perspective I sae Cuellar as your weak link and we should have attacked you a lot more down the left hand side. We certainly could have done without a replay, we have a very small squad, on the other hand its a few more quid in the coffers to hopefully bring us in a few more players in before the transfer window closes.
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25/01/2009 10:35:00

Sidwell..Cows arse and banjo come to mind. Surprised at such a low mark for Gardener. Thanks for the report.
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25/01/2009 11:15:00

Sidwell and Cuellar were really disappointing yesterday, but I still have hopes that they will settle in and improve. They are not like Shorey, i.e. I don't want us to get rid of them. For me the MotM should be the cross bar - it made the biggest impact on the result!
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25/01/2009 11:44:00

'couldn't hit water if he fell out of a boat' LOL. Not heard that one before. Very good Mayo! I think Sidwell has the quality to pull things around. If we go back to 442, at the moment I'd think he would be the player on the bench and coming on as sub though, Barry and Petrov certainly won't be replaced.
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25/01/2009 11:59:00

Thanks dazza71. Interesting with Cuellar, he is another big money signing coming in with great promise. He's been played out of position for a lot of the season when he has been played (right back) so still to see the best of him I'm sure.
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25/01/2009 11:59:00

Hmmm, though shorey had good game considering he hasnt played much. Cuellar and Sidwell, they just aint impressed me, half the time I dont know Sidwell is playing untill he has a shot.
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25/01/2009 12:09:00

Cuellar has certainly been something of a disappointment, but I thought it was just me. He doesn't look comfortable on the ball, always a very good way to judge a footballer. The sooner Luke Young is free to revert to right full back the better. In Martin Laursen's absence I'd be tempted to play Cuellar alongside Curtis Davies at the heart of the defence, his rightful position, believing that he and Davies can cement a formidable enough partnership to see us through this mini-crisis. Zat and Curis are too 'iffy' as a pairing in my estimation. The left back role remains of concern though, even though Shorey is a better player than we have yet witnessed. Hopefully Freddie will return as good as new, but until then I guess we somehow have to muddle through. Craig Gardner wasn't really on long enough to fairly rate wittonwisdom, so dont judge his 'low' score as a reflection of his performance. What he did he did well enough, that late shot on target that Sullivan fumbled for example, but in the short time he was out there, he was never going to influence procedings.
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25/01/2009 19:07:00

We definitely missed the spark and creativity all too often provided by Ashley Young Gordonsleftboot. It will no doubt be even more apparent at Fratton Park on Tuesday evening, and against Wigan next weekend. No, Shorey didn't weaken the left flank. He was adequate, although nothing more. He's not performing to the best of his ability and capabilities though, that much is obvious.
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25/01/2009 19:11:00

As usual, GS, your reporting skills are dazzling. As it happens, I was able to watch the entire game courtesy of Setanta Ireland. You miss things that those actually there pick up and you also get to see close-ups of the players that you wouldn't if seated in row F57. I thought from seeing Shorey's face a number of times that he was really trying to "please the boss". He showed plenty of neat touches, one or two of his crosses were quite good but sometimes his distribution was disappointing. I think he just about deserves a run now with Luke Young playing on the other side of the defence. Cuellar may be many things and is probably kind to children and animals but a full-back he ain't nor, IMO will he ever be. Much of the Donnie's threat came down that flank. I'd have liked to see him play in the holding midfield position (I just have a hunch he might work out there when the occasion demands) with NRC at right back - he's not a full-back either but in the absence of Luke Young, he's reasonably adequate. On the other hand, NRC did put Gabby in for what looked like a certain goal only to be foiled by the elderly Mr Sullivan. We certainly missed young Ashley. I think he would have skinned his full-back and that might have made the difference. Nonetheless, I think Doncaster deserved to fight another day and I don't think the tie is all done and dusted either just because they've to come to B6. They've nowt to lose!
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25/01/2009 21:27:00

Yes, there were some low marks there Jonathan. I thought that as a team we played well within ourselves, which surprised me. No, Carlos Cuellar has not as yet impressed me. Hopefully given more time we will see the type of player that we were expecting, and who many were raving about upon him putting pen to paper. As of yet though, I personally dont think that he's looked the part.
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26/01/2009 00:58:00


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