For every high that Copps has enjoyed in a red and white shirt, there has to be a low. This was it.All week we have been reviewing each season played by Doncaster Rovers’ famous number 26, James Coppinger.
Previously we looked at Season 7.
It’s fair to say that this was a season to forget for Coppinger and Doncaster Rovers as a whole as the club seemed to take a regressive step.
The campaign got off to the worst possible start inside the opening two games – a 2-1 league defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion at the brand new AMEX Stadium and a 3-0 League Cup win over Tranmere Rovers – as the attacking trio of Billy Sharp, James Hayter and Ryan Mason were ruled out for up to three months each, with serious injuries.
With Rovers struggling for points, having accumulated just one in their opening seven games, Sean O’Driscoll was axed from his managerial role with the club and replaced by Welshman Dean Saunders.
The former Liverpool and Aston Villa forward certainly made an impact in South Yorkshire and recruited heavily with eclectic names such as El Hadji Diouf, Pascal Chimbonda, Habib Beye et al joining the Rovers ranks.
Impressive wins over Ipswich (3-2), Southampton (1-0) and Leicester (2-1) were offset by poor showings against relegation rivals Portsmouth, Barnsley and Millwall amid reported cliques in the dressing room.
No one took Coppinger’s place though and he – along with Simon Gillett – were constants in an underachieving side.
Sharp was sold and the rumours about who would follow the talismanic striker were rife. Coppinger stayed put and took a nasty elbow to the face in a game against Bristol City at Ashton Gate which kept him out for six weeks.
The cause looked lost but there were bright spots, including a win at Nottingham Forest which kept the flame of hope flickering, before an inspired draw at Upton Park where Coppinger bagged a momentous second half equaliser.
With just 2 points from their next ten games, however, the writing was firmly on the wall and though Coppinger bagged his second, and last, goal of the campaign against Portsmouth, it was in vain as Rovers were relegated by Pompey in a 4-3 defeat at the Keepmoat.
While we can’t promise El Hadji Diouf will make an appearance at Keepmoat Stadium on Sunday for the Legends game – although you never know – the following will be playing:
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