Doncaster Rovers 0 Blues 2 .. Ron's Report

Last updated : 17 March 2009 By Richard Barker

The lack of wins on the road of late have contributed to Blues' indifferent form and failure to pick up the points that people would have expected, so this was a welcome result at a key point of the season. Importantly too, it was a thoroughly deserved result.

Don't get me wrong, Blues weren't stunning by any stretch of the imagination. What they were, however, was purposeful, confident and strong. Too strong, in fact. All season we've said that Blues should turn up at places like this and just be too much for their opponents. Here they were. Doncaster just couldn't cope.

With Doncaster in fine form prior to the match, you could have been forgiven for thinking that Blues were about to visit Chelsea or Manchester United given some comments made. Whilst Doncaster had won a few games lately, they are still a club who a few years back were in non-league, have just built a new stadium with increased capacity (up to 15,000) and whose captain and star player is Brian Stock. With all due respect, Blues shouldn't really be playing such teams in league matches, but they were. If you do have to play such teams, you have to expect Blues to ease past them comfortably. Thankfully, for once, they did.

Doncaster's "wonderful football" has been much hailed this season, in much the same way as West Bromwich Albion's has. Like Albion, Doncaster's main concern is relegation and nothing else. It's all well and good knocking lovely balls across the midfield, but you need to do something with it. Then, when you come up against a team who outdoes you in the midfield, you really get exposed as a nothing team, as happened here.

It says something about Blues, in truth, that they changed their system to counter Doncaster Rovers' qualities. Still, they did, and it worked. By flooding the midfield and overpowering Doncaster in there, the home side were left with absolutely nothing in their locker. They were clueless and hopeless. This meant that whilst Blues weren't fantastic themselves, with the quality of the players in the side and the superior pace, power and skill, it was only a matter of time before they took advantage, and they duly did in the first half, going 2-0 up.

Cameron Jerome's goal was a fine header under pressure, whilst Hameur Bouazza's first goal for the club was a stunning instinctive finish after some poor defending. Bouazza had the splittest of split seconds to make a decision and carry it out, and he did that. Squaring the ball across the fact of the goal looked favourite, but the tiniest of toe pokes, putting enough spin on the ball for it to curl into the far corner, was expertly done. His finishing during the rest of the game was more reminiscent of Blues' usual prowess in front of goal - with a little composure he could have had four or five himself.

At half-time I thought to myself that I would rather not get three or four if it just meant that we had a trouble-free half and left with the 2-0 win. Too many times this season we've seen Blues lead on the road, sit back too much and invite the opposition onto them and cause themselves problems. I would have taken a dull, event-free second half if it meant leaving with the three points. Again, thankfully, Blues obliged.

Lee Bowyer is becoming a huge player for Blues now. For years people have banged on about an "attacking midfielder" in the middle of the park. I've pointed out many times that there's different types of such a player - there's the Jason Koumas creative type who can pick a pass and doesn't contribute much else, and there's the Frank Lampard type who plays a little deeper but weighs in with about 20 goals a season. Then there's the Lee Bowyer type who isn't clinical with through balls and all the rest of it, and he isn't really going to get a goal every two games, but what he does do is play the game further up the pitch. He chases down centre halves and gets involved beyond the opposition midfield, rather than in front of them. All of that helps the side play further up the pitch, which helps both offensively and defensively. The other thing he gives you is tireless running. One or two people questioned whether his legs had gone when he signed, but I suspect that there's not a single person doing that now. In fact, I can't imagine that there's a single person questioning his signing now, and there were a lot doing so when he came in. He's been hugely influential.

With the manager, team and fans all playing their part in an all-round enjoyable afternoon, it all seemed a little too good to be true. It was, therefore, left to a few hundred morons to sour things by booing Ulises De La Cruz when he came on for his Blues debut.

Those who booed him, I'm afraid, are nothing short of idiotic on so many levels. A lot, I'm sure, had just had too much to drink and were trying to impress their mates. However, others seemed to genuinely wanting to try and justify their actions. Take, for example, the bloke behind me, who booed De La Cruz as he came on. Myself and a friend turned to him and asked why he and others were booing.

"He's a w****r."


"He just is."

"But he's playing for Blues, why boo him?"

"He's in a blue shirt, so I won't boo him [even though he had done] but I don't have to cheer him."


"He's a w****r."

I left the conversation there, but it was such a load of rubbish in so many ways.

Firstly, had Blues been losing and had there been general discontent amongst the fans, you can almost understand (if not accept) such things as simply being borne out of frustration. Blues were 2-0 up, however, and the spirit amongst everyone was excellent. Surely it was a chance to try and include De La Cruz in that, despite people's misgivings.

Secondly, Franck Queudrue was visibly injured (despite his protestations to stay on), Blues had brought on Garry O'Connor and had Colin Doyle, Scott Sinclair, Carlos Costly and De La Cruz left on the bench. One's a goalkeeper, one's a young striker/winger, one's Honduran and one's played nearly 100 games for his country and has played full-back for years in the Premier League. Who are you going to bring on? (That's a rhetorical question.)

Thirdly, anyone with much knowledge of football and associated news will know that De La Cruz is one of the last players that you'd consider to be "a w****r", given that pro-rated he's probably given a greater percentage of his wages to charity than any footballer to ever play in Britain. He's quiet, intelligent and never, ever, ever finds himself foul of anyone (save for moronic fans). How is he "a w****r"?

Fourthly, (and I think we're arriving at the key now), yes, he is an ex Villa player. However, so are Kevin Phillips (hailed by the fans), Keith Fahey (hailed by the fans) and Liam Ridgewell (hailed by some fans). Yes, De La Cruz was employed by Aston Villa and played a few games against Blues (mainly resulting in Blues wins). He never once scored against the Blues (though he came close once) and then revealed a t-shirt saying "YOU LOT ARE TOSSERS". He never once tried to end the career of a Blues player. He just did his job. Phillips once scored the winner for Villa against the Blues and celebrated in front of the Tilton Road End - if you're going to boo any ex Villa player, boo him for that.

Fifthly, (and finally, as I don't want to detract from a good win), he's come in to help Blues out. He hasn't forced himself on the club. The manager has brought him in for assistance and numbers and he came on and did a pretty decent job. Why oh why abuse someone for that?

I know that as usual with all these things, no one will actually say, "yes, it was me, I booed him" and everyone will deny doing it, but lots of people did do it, and I'd love for one of them to explain their thinking a little bit beyond, "he's a w****r".

Anyway, as I say, let's not detract from a decent performance and a very good result that puts Blues in a strong position. It was a good evening all round, in the main. It's just a pity that there's always a few who put a dampener on things. Usually it's a few of the players that ruin things, but thankfully it was a few fans this time.