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Football Donny Style

By: Chrs Smith
Date: 19/12/2010

JOHN Oster took pride of place on the Donny Rovers programme cover for Friday night’s match against Middlesbrough. He also got four pages to himself inside and there was a lot about Grimsby in the article. There wasn't really, they didn't ask the right questions in the "interview" which jumped from was he concerned about not getting a goal so far this season and what about all his tattoos?

Oster is a popular player given he provides plenty of assists and is benefiting from playing plenty of games. Ex-Town favourite Sam Hird isn't getting so many games but started in this game and was to make an excellent stop on the edge of the penalty area at a time when Middlesbrough were dominating the game and threatening to conjure up a winner.

It was surprising that the game was on given the very low temperatures in the area but the covers seemed to have done the job and the pitch looked to be in good nick. That’s probably in better condition than the pullover clad programme seller who reckoned it was mild here compared to his home up in Huddersfield (where he shared a flat with a Town fan). I did detect a shiver in this hardy hill dweller but this was denied and I wished aloud that I still had his stamina for the elements which I lost about twenty years ago.

The ticket office had rightly judged my matchday age to be about seven so I found myself in the family block but close enough to the Smoggies to scrutinise their away support. Sure enough, out of the 1,500 or so following, I picked out a few wearing chemical protection outfits complete with face mask. The Boro fans were to be noisy throughout the game but lost some marks due to the presence of a drum and singing that "You're so quiet, we'll sing on our own, we'll sing..." A basement song that has no place in the Championship.

To be fair, the drumming was in support of the chanting rather than drowning it out which added a carnival atmosphere with the whistles thrown in and a group of younger fans banging the advertising hoardings to the front. Best tune was the Pigbag theme which I believe started at Boro and was interspersed with chants of "Tees!" which I took as a reference to the river rather than the ex Town player.

They soon had something to cheer about as Donny looked hesitant in the early minutes. In the third, striker Marvin Emnes, who was a handful all night, crossed from the left and Scott McDonald slotted home. Cue an ecstatic manie from the away fans who stood throughout the game. It was an impressive boogie and I looked on in envy as did quite a few Rovers fans who must have been wondering why they didn't make as much noise although the well appointed Keepmoat does generate a fair racket on its day.

After this wobbly start, the Rovers midfield tried to impose some dominance on the game which slowly started to turn in Rovers’ favour although one shot high over the Boro bar was to be a continual feature of the evening. However, Donny deservedly got back into the game when a ball into the area came to James Hayter’s head and he made no mistake planting it into the Boro net with a firm downward header from about ten yards. This meant I could stand up and applaud and work some warmth into limbs I suspected may have become frostbitten. After checking nothing sensitive had fallen off, I resumed with watching the game.

The Boro fans, whilst chastened (one fell over in dismay or was it something else to keep the chill out?) soon made some more noise whilst Donny sought to press home their advantage.

Rovers are a very good passing team although the final ball is sometimes awry but any aficionado of the good times at Town would enjoy watching them play. Another blast over the bar was followed by Boro chancing their arm. However, there wasn't too much to trouble either keeper as the half drew to a close.

Half time Donny 1 Boro 1

The stadium announcer then informed us that the match officials had looked again at the pitch but had declared it fit for continuing play. The only slip I'd seen was a Rovers player trying to avoid a linesman and then knocking him to his knees as they collided. From what I saw, it was the right call to play on.

The Keepmoat has spacious concourses for larger crowds and the 9,500 or so didn't trouble the outlets too much. I'd imagine most were congregating under the stand as it offered a bit more heat.

The second half got underway with a statement of intent form Boro as they pressed the home side although chances were few and far between. Donny did look as though they were struggling to deal with Boro’s pace. One run just failed to produce a cross which would have caused Rovers difficulties. Donny then had a penalty appeal (rightly) turned down.

Rovers did fashion a few chances but when the Boro keeper kept a shot out, the follow up was wanting. However, the best chance to settle the match appeared to come in the last ten minutes when a ball came into the Rovers area only for a Boro front man in plenty of space to hook it over the Donny keeper and unfortunately over the bar. The looks of anguish in the away end said it all with much holding of heads in hands. Then came Sam Hird’s block.

The Boro fans weren't to be the only ones holding their heads. With the three minutes of injury time almost up, Donny exerted some pressure, and after keeping out one shot, the Boro number one got down to a twenty yarder from Rovers’ Brian Stock but failed to hang on to it. It was one of those slow motion moments as the home support wondered if it would go in or not. It did, and the Boro keeper was left disbelieving his luck.

Full time Rovers 2 Boro 1

A good win for Rovers after a five one defeat at Leicester and they jumped up to ninth from sixteenth in a tight mid-table. A loss would have left them only three points clear of Boro who still sit level on points with a relegation place. It was hard luck on Boro and it goes to show that having a loud set of fans wins you nothing as we have found out lately.

This game cost £15 as does their home Christmas fixture against Ipswich. However, any Rovers fan paying on the turnstile at Derby on Boxing Day will have to part with a mind numbing £34. Sometimes this BSP lark doesn't seem so bad.

Must do better award goes to the young Smoggies singing "You can stick your Yorkshire puddings up you're a***" at some home fans after the game. Before 1974, Middlesbrough was in er, Yorkshire and post Cleveland, is classed as North Yorkshire for some purposes. Definitely a case of back to school on Monday...

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