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June 2021

Can Doncaster repeat their previous triumphs against Arsenal?

by Tony Attwood

Probably the key thing you know about Doncaster is that their manager is the son of Sir Alex Ferguson: Duncan.  He has been manager of Preston, and Peterborough (twice).  He joined Doncaster in October 2015.  And well, if you didn’t know that, you know now.

In recent years the club has had a Topsy-turvy season after a Topy-turvy season which makes them sound rather like a libretto by WS Gilbert (that’s he of Gilbert and Sullivan fame, in case my light operatic allusions pass you by).

Season Tier Division Position What happened
2011–2012 2 Championship 24nd Relegated
2012–2013 3 League One 1st Champions
2013–2014 2 Championship 22nd Relegated
2014–2015 3 League One 13th Mid-table
2015–2016 3 League One 21st Relegated
2016–2017 4 League Two 3rd Promoted
2017-2018 3 League One 19th  ? Relegation

Obviously the 2017/18 position is the current position as we head into tonight’s match.

However the two clubs involved tonight have not always been divisions apart and for two seasons (1901/2 and 1902/3) both Doncaster and Woolwich Arsenal were in the second division of the Football League.  That short run ended when Arsenal were promoted to the first division in 1903.

But it was at this time that Doncaster had their great triumph over Arsenal as on 29 March 1902 Doncaster Rovers beat Woolwich Arsenal 1-0 in the League.  An event never to be repeated since that day.

Since the four league games between the two clubs in 1901 and 1902 there has been one FA Cup match in 1953 (Arsenal won 4-0) and three League Cup games: two straight wins for Arsenal in 1987 when the second round of the league cup was played home and away, and a match in December 2005 which needs a little more scrutiny which I’ll come to in a minute.

Doncaster has won the third tier of English football five times during its long history, although in the season they beat Woolwich Arsenal for the only time they also lost 12-0 to Small Heath (who became Birmingham City).  The league table at the end of that season makes interesting reading because although some clubs have long since gone (Glossop, the team run by the Hill-Wood family, for example, went bust in 1915), Burnley, Leicester and Manchester United all ended up lower than Doncaster in that season and are today of course in the PL.

In the table below it is two points for a win, and equal points were separated on goal average (goals for divided by goals against).

os Team Pld W D L F A GAvg Pts
1 West Bromwich Albion 34 25 5 4 82 29 2.828 55
2 Middlesbrough 34 23 5 6 90 24 3.750 51
3 Preston North End 34 18 6 10 71 32 2.219 42
4 Woolwich Arsenal 34 18 6 10 50 26 1.923 42
5 Lincoln City 34 14 13 7 45 35 1.286 41
6 Bristol City 34 17 6 11 52 35 1.486 40
7 Doncaster Rovers 34 13 8 13 49 58 0.845 34
8 Glossop North End 34 10 12 12 36 40 0.900 32
9 Burnley 34 10 10 14 41 45 0.911 30
10 Burton United 34 11 8 15 46 54 0.852 30
11 Barnsley 34 12 6 16 51 63 0.810 30
12 Port Vale 34 10 9 15 43 59 0.729 29
13 Blackpool 34 11 7 16 40 56 0.714 29
14 Leicester City 34 12 5 17 38 56 0.679 29
15 Manchester United 34 11 6 17 38 53 0.717 28
16 Chesterfield Town 34 11 6 17 47 68 0.691 28
17 Stockport County 34 8 7 19 36 72 0.500 23
18 Gainsborough Trinity 34 4 11 19 30 80 0.375 19

But for those of us not old enough to remember that famous Doncaster victory, we might recall 21 December 2005 at the wonderfully named Earth Stadium, although probably mostly for the fear that this was going to be an almighty disaster.  Our team was…

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Eboue Djourou Senderos Cygan

Hleb Gilberto Song

Quincy Van Persie Lupoli

Doncaster took the lead on four minutes, Quincy equalised just after the hour mark, and so it went to extra time.  Doncaster took the lead again at the end of the first half of extra time and Gilberto Silva equalised in the very last minute of the game to take the match to penalties.

In the penalty shoot out Arsenal went first and Gilberto, Cygan and Larsson (who had come on as a sub) scored, while Doncaster scored their first, missed the second and then had the third saved by Almunia.  Hleb took Arsenal’s fourth, and that was saved but then Almunia saved Doncaster’s fourth penalty and Arsenal were through.  Just.

Perhaps we might hope for a little less excitement tonight.

Doncaster have never reached the final of the League Cup, Arsenal have been there seven times, but only won it twice – once as part of the Cup Double under Graham.  In those days we played our first team in the League Cup games.

Doncaster started this season well with five games undefeated, including league cup wins over Bradford City and Hull City, but only one of the games in that run was a win in the league.  Since then they have had four defeats and two draws which leaves them 19th in the table with the last three games all ending in defeat, although each time only by a single goal.

Here’s the foot of the table

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
18 Northampton Town 8 2 1 5 8 14 -6 7
19 Doncaster Rovers 8 1 3 4 7 10 -3 6
20 Gillingham 8 1 3 4 6 11 -5 6
21 Rochdale 8 1 3 4 7 13 -6 6
22 Bury 8 1 2 5 8 14 -6 5
23 Plymouth Argyle 8 1 2 5 6 13 -7 5
24 Oldham Athletic 8 1 1 6 11 18 -7 4

Arsenal’s injuries, recent results and the team will follow anon.

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4 comments to Can Doncaster repeat their previous triumphs against Arsenal?

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    We the Gooners know that Arsenal will beat Doncaster Rovers in the 3rd round match of the Carabao Cup game at the Emirates Stadium tonight. Even Le Prof and the Gunners who are going to be involved in this match already know this. But should any Gooner or persons connected with Arsenal did not know this, he/she and they must be from another planet different from our own earth planet.

    Le Prof has it made known in his Gunners uptade yesterday that the seemed to be forgotten Calum Chambers and the recently remembered Jack Wilshere will all be involved in tonight”s 3rd round Carabao Cup match at the Ems. But despite the obvious fact that I am not the Arsenal manager neither am I Le Prof’s technical adviser but a die hard Arsenal supporter having a great passion for Arsenal to see the club win games and win titles, I will as usual dabble into making my Arsenal starts and bench I’ll like to see Prof involves in this Arsenal Carabao Cup match tonight.

    My mixed 3-4-3 Arsenal starts and bench for the Doncaster Rovers match.

    Maitland-Niles Chambers Holding
    Nelson Wilshere Elneny Wilock
    Walcott Giroud Iwobi

    Ospina Mertesacker Kolasinac Adelaide Ozil Sanchez Akpom.

    Note: I’ve included both Ozil who was said to have resumed training yesterday and the yet to be fully match fit Sanchez on my bench for them to gain some and more match fitness as Le Prof brings them on for this purpose as substitutes in this match ahead of our home PL match against WBA on Monday night next week at the Ems.

    I think the result of this match will be: Arsenal 6-0 Doncaster Rovers @FT + the added time.

  • Goonermikey

    I remember going to watch us play a friendly at Doncaster pre-season 1970/71. We lost 5-0 with a young team but I remember being impressed by an 18 year old Ray Kennedy and a 17 year old Paul Davis. I still have the programme which cost sixpence…….that was old money of course and, for you youngsters, that would be a whole two and a half pence nowadays.

    I recall we did alright that season 🙂

  • jjgsol

    It seems that these cup games with lower league teams come in 2 main categories.

    The first is where the gulf in class shows straight away and the higher league has an easy game.

    The other is where the other team ups its game and the game becomes a very even contest.

    WE saw that last year with the 2 games against non-league, but very capable opponents.

    I hope that last week’s first half shocker was a lesson well learnt by the team that plays.

  • Old school! – nod

    Effective performance, nothing more nothing lwss.

    Good displays from the young players and you can see, jack and Alexis need time.

    Next a sterner test than Cjelea, dominate a game, create and finish clinically, whilst shutting down break out counters early. – CONTROL

    influence, dismantle, tame, game selection, the matador.

    Imprint Arsenal DNA, sequence unbeaten.

    Ozil Lacazette, Alexis, Ramsey, Xaka, Wilshere, Bellerin, Kalasinac,Mustarfi, Koscielny Cech – swap Jack for Monreal

    Giroud, Elneny, Chambers, Mertersacher, Minreal (JW) Ospina, Iwobi