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On Saturday, fifth-tier Ebbsfleet United host third-tier Doncaster Rovers in the 1st Round of the FA Cup. Despite entering the match as underdogs, The Fleet will be determined to record a victory that would likely go down as one of the memorable FA Cup giant-killings.
However, how much of a chance do Ebbsfleet have against Darren Ferguson’s side? Football League Scout looks back at some recent FA Cup 1st Round games where Doncaster Rovers faced non-league sides, asking whether the South Yorkshire side can live up to the pressure of being favourites.
Doncaster Rovers 2-0 Stalybridge Celtic (2015/16)
Andy Williams scored twice as Darren Ferguson’s third-tier Rovers progressed into the 2nd Round of the FA Cup, knocking out sixth-tier Stalybridge Celtic.
Rovers took the lead after just three minutes: Nathan Tyson galloped forward and cut a pass back from the byline, with Williams charging in to slot past Celtic ‘keeper Tony McMillan. 1-0.
Ferguson’s side continued to attack, although Stalybridge worked hard to deny Rovers. However, Celtic had chances of their own, with Bohan Dixon threatening from a free-kick.
However, it was game over for Stalybridge after 68 minutes: the ball cannoned around the box and Oliver Crowley missed his clearance, allowing Williams to volley home on the angle. 2-0.
Nevertheless, Williams was not the star of the show, with the match remembered as the one in which James Coppinger became Rovers’ all-time leading appearance maker. The stalwart’s 469th appearance was marked with a pre-match presentation and applause in the 26th minute.
Doncaster Rovers 3-1 Bradford Park Avenue (2012/13)
Goals from Martin Woods, Iain Hume and Chris Brown saw Dean Saunders’ third-tier Rovers progress into the 2nd Round of the FA Cup, knocking out sixth-tier Bradford Park Avenue.
The game began evenly, with both sides starting brightly. Paul Keegan and Billy Paynter had chances for Rovers, whilst Richard Marshall and Paul Walker threatened for Avenue.
However, Saunders’ side took the lead after 27 minutes: Iain Hume delivered an angled ball towards Woods, who found the bottom corner from 20 yards. 1-0.
And, Rovers added a second eight minutes later: Paynter beat his man and picked out Hume in the area, who directed a side-footed shot past Bradford ‘keeper Tim Deasy. 2-0.
Nevertheless, Avenue were not yet beaten and pulled a goal back on 55 minutes: Danny Holland flicked the ball to Marshall, who found the top corner from distance. 2-1.
Bradford searched for the equaliser, although it was Saunders’ side who scored next: a floated delivery by Keegan was met by Brown, putting the game out of doubt for Rovers. 3-1.
Weston-Super-Mare 1-4 Doncaster Rovers (2014/15)
A brace from Curtis Main helped Paul Dickov’s third-tier Rovers progress into the 2nd Round of the FA Cup, knocking out sixth-tier Weston-Super-Mare.
Dickov’s side didn’t have to wait too long to take the lead: in the 15th minute, Main stabbed home Kyle Bennett’s shot after the Seagulls failed to deal with a corner. 0-1.
Rovers advanced from here, although Weston-Super-Mare ‘keeper Luke Purnell was in determined form. Nevertheless, there was nothing the stopper could do about Main’s second in the 33rd minute: the former Middlesbrough forward turned home the rebound from Coppinger’s shot. 0-2.
And, it was game over for the Seagulls on the stroke of half-time: after controlling with his chest, Coppinger expertly volleyed into the top corner. 0-3.
Still, Weston-Super-Mare returned after the break in fighting spirit, with Ryan Bath and Dayle Grubb both going close. But, the pair were left to rue their missed opportunities as Rovers added a fourth: Bennett played through Richie Wellens, who slotted home. 0-4.
The game wasn’t quite over yet though, as the hosts grabbed a deserved injury-time consolation goal: Bristol City loanee Liam Monelle headed home from a corner. 1-4.
The fixture was played on a Tuesday night, ten days later than scheduled. This came after the tie fell victim to the weather and referee Tim Robinson decided that parts of the pitch were unplayable, calling the game off 21 minutes before kick-off (much to the disappointment of Dickov).
The above shows that Doncaster Rovers can live up to the pressure of being favourites, avoiding slip-ups in those games that may be described as a ‘potential banana skin’. This record will certainly not help Daryl McMahon’s Ebbsfleet, who will need to be at their best.
Nevertheless, a victory for The Fleet is not out of the question: such giant-killings are synonymous with the ‘Magic of the FA Cup’. You just never know.