Rovers travel to AFC Wimbledon this weekend for the first round of the Emirates FA Cup.
Rovers and Wimbledon were the last Sky Bet League One teams standing in last season’s competition with both making it to the fifth round. Rovers lost out to Premier League Crystal Palace, while Wimbledon were defeated by Millwall. Tickets are no longer on sale from the Club Doncaster Box Office but terrace tickets can be purchased on the day - tickets on the day are cash only.
AFC Wimbledon and the FA Cup
Wimbledon have a proud history in the FA Cup and have traditionally overachieved in the competition.
In their previous guise as Wimbledon FC, the club’s infamous Crazy Gang famously defied all the odds to beat Liverpool’s Culture Club 1-0 in the 1988 final at Wembley. Lawrie Sanchez headed in from a Dennis Wise free-kick and at the other end, goalkeeper and captain David Beasant sealed the win by denying Division One’s top goal scorer John Aldridge from the penalty spot.
Cup runs are not uncommon in Wimbledon’s more recent history either. AFC Wimbledon reached the FA Cup third round for the first time in 2015 but lost 2-1 to Liverpool with Steven Gerrard scoring both goals.
In 2017/18, a 3-1 win over Charlton Athletic earned Wimbledon earned a trip to Wembley to play Tottenham Hotspur in the third round of the competition – a match they lost3-0.
Last season, AFC Wimbledon recorded one of the upsets of the competition when they defeated a strong West Ham side 4-2 at the Cherry Red Records Stadium in the fourth round. Goals from Kwesi Appiah and Scott Wagstaff put the Dons 3-0 up, West Ham hit back twice but a late goal from Toby Sibbick finished off the tie.
The Dons haven’t always had things their way in the competition however and fell victim to Sutton United in the 2016/17 season on the non-league side’s remarkable run to fifth round.
Who’s the gaffer?
Glyn Hodges was given the Wimbledon manager’s role on October 23 - he had been operating as caretaker manager since September after Walley Downes resigned from the role after admitting to breaking the FA’s betting rules.
The Welsh international spent seven years as a player at Wimbledon after breaking through their youth system in the early 80s. He appeared 232 times for the Dons between 1980 and 1987 scoring 49 goals. After that, he played for a number of clubs until his retirement in 1999. The clubs included Newcastle United where he met up with former Wimbledon manager Dave Bassett until he retired from playing in 1999.
Hodges began his coaching career in 2000 when he once again joined up with Bassett this time at Barnsley. He had two spells as caretaker manager of Barnsley during a turbulent spell for the Tykes before joining the FAW as Wales U21s manager in 2004.
At the FAW he worked closely with then-Wales manager Mark Hughes and subsequently followed Hughes to Blackburn, Man City and Fulham before taking a job at Queens Park Rangers and then Stoke.
He spent five years as Stoke’s U23s manager before giving that up to become Downes assistant manager at Wimbledon in December 2018.
Who’s the ref?
Saturday’s official is Darren Drysdale. You can learn more about Drysdale here.
One to watch
With Dons top scorer Marcus Forss not permitted to feature on Saturday by his parent club Brentford, focus will undoubtedly fall on Ghana international Kwesi Appiah.
Appiah has been involved in four goals this season and hits the target with 67% of his shots so always carries a threat.
The 29-year-old striker came through at Ebbsfleet United before making the move to Peterborough United. After spending time out on loan and in non-league, he made a big move to Crystal Palace. He played 6 times for the Eagles and had successful loans at a number of clubs including AFC Wimbledon and Reading. Whilst playing for Reading, he received 7 caps for Ghana.
Rovers fans will be well aware of Appiah as he scored in Rovers 2-0 league defeat last season. He also has a good tradition in the FA Cup scoring the opening goal in the Dons remarkable win against West Ham in last season’s FA Cup.