The Don out of Doncaster

Doncaster Rovers vs Bradford City – Associate Members Cup – Johnson’s Paint Trophy

It was to be hoped that Donovan Ricketts was carrying some sort of injury – the Jamaican acrobat lacking the impressiveness on Saturday to stop a match losing last minute free kick which some but not all would argue was unstoppable – and so news of his groin injury before tonight’s Associate Members Cup – Johnson’s Paint Trophy if you prefer and we prefer you do – game at holders Doncaster.

Ricketts’s will be absent leaving Stuart McCall to decide between eighteen year old Ben Saynor and whomever can be scrambled in on loan, probably former Newcastle fourth choice Jonathan Brain.

Ricketts joins a number of players sitting out the low priority tie with David Wetherall, Eddie Johnson, Mark Bower and Paul Evans all missing. Matt Clarke, Simon Ainge, Tom Penford and Scott Phelan are expected to move into the heart of what will be a much different team which McCall insists is the best available.

The importance McCall places in this competition is brought into clarity – a stiff back would not keep David Wetherall out of a league game – and perhaps the City boss is right to rest players. The effect of winning this competition on Doncaster Rovers seems to be marginal. The club have impressively risen over the last few seasons and for sure have made much considering the state they were left in by a bombastic former chairman but the attempts to push on from good regional to Championship side have faltered of late and the Johnsons Paint Trophy does nothing to push them into the top 44 of English football.

Silverware is always pleasing but where a club in Doncaster – or City’s – position look at banner headlines for achievement then they would not find it here. Promotion of course and FA Cup runs are the stuff of back pages and were a City or Doncaster do as Chesterfield or Plymouth in recent years have and reach an FA Cup semi-final then they may make people take notice. Sadly this competition – with withdrawals and low crowds a plenty – struggles for kudos.

Brave thinking would split it in to eight or even sixteen ultra regional competitions and play off for honours as champions of one’s area but that thinking has yet to be employed by the Football League and so the “local” game with Doncaster will prove resistible for many City fans and – should recent seasons be an indicator – the Bantams interest will end sooner rather than later assuming that Doncaster – needed points for the league and at home to a team from a lower division – do not suffer more of a malaise than us visitors do.