Championship football returns to the Keepmoat this weekend as we welcome Paul Dickov into the Rovers dugout for the first time as his Rovers side locks horns with one of his former clubs, Blackpool.
The Seasiders will come to South Yorkshire looking to avenge their defeat in the one other time that the two sides have met on the opening day of the season, which came back in 2004/05.
Dave Penney’s side were still buoyed by the promotion from the fourth tier just three months later and were to spoil the debut for Pool’s manager Colin Hendry in a game, which Rovers threatened to run away with.
Right from the kick off it was the hosts who were at the races in blistering sunshine at Belle Vue and it took just five minutes for them to get into the lead although it was in somewhat fortuitous circumstances. Tim Ryan poured forward from left back and fired a shot at goal which most people would have expected visiting ‘keeper Sasa Ilic to save, but inexplicably the ball squirmed out of the Serbian’s grasp and rolled into the net.
Ilic went someway to atoning for his early error around 20 minutes later as he dived full length to deny Michael McIndoe who almost doubled Rovers’ lead. Ryan then went close as he again tried his luck from distance before John Doolan thought he’d test the mettle of the former Charlton stopper and Gregg Blundell also whistled a couple of efforts just past the angle of the goal. Such was the dominance of the home side in the opening 45 minutes Andy Warrington didn’t have one shot to save.
Following a stern talking to by Hendry at the break, the Seasiders came out for the second half full of vigour but only a moment of pure skill would fashion a chance for the visitors. That opportunity came when Martin Bullock ghosted past a couple of players before dinking the ball into John Murphy but the striker found Warrington in no mood to concede as he made a wonderful save, tipping the ball over the crossbar.
Leo Fortune West was a whisker away from punishing Blackpool within a moment of the Warrington wonder saves, after receiving the ball from McIndoe he slotted past the imposing figure of Ilic but he couldn’t steer the ball between the posts.
Hendry will have been happier with the performance of his side following the break but in truth Rovers were always in control and should have been out of sight before Fortune West was to put the game to bed from inside the box with just under ten minutes remaining.
It was to be the start of a nine game unbeaten run at home for Dave Penney’s men which laid the foundations for a solid top ten finish come the end of the season.