DAVID Syers is probably unique in the Doncaster Rovers’ squad in that he has played against Crawley Town.
He played against the Red Devils last season during his time at Bradford City, in a game he remembers for all the wrong reasons - the infamous post-match brawl at Valley Parade which led to five sending offs.
“I think there was a bit of history between one of the lads on their side and one on ours,” recalled Syers, who wasn’t involved in the incident.
“They had a style of play last season which was repeatable and at the end of the day they had some very good players,” he said.
“With the money they were paying out you can’t help but get quality players.
“For most of last year they basically had a very strong spine but from my experience it wasn’t always pretty.
“The keeper kicked the ball a long way and they had two good centre-backs and two very good forwards and they won a lot of games just based on that.
“But it’s hard for me to say from just one game how they did in other games, though I would imagine that they would have been very difficult at home. With the calibre of players they have brought in over the last couple of seasons I’ve no doubt that they can also pass the ball as well and I think it’s going to be a very tough game for us tomorrow.
“But if we can continue our form from our opening two league matches we’ll be confident of getting a result.
“We’ll be looking to build on Tuesday’s win over a very good Bury side and if we play as well tomorrow then hopefully we can keep the ball rolling.”
Rovers have adopted different tactics in their opening two games. They sat back in Saturday’s 3-0 win at Walsall and then caught their opponents on the break, whereas they took the game to Bury in Tuesday’s 2-1 win.
“We’ve not discussed general tactics for the season,” said Syers. “Throughout pre-season the gaffer made sure that can play any way we want to play.
“We feel that if teams want to play football, we can play football and if teams want to scrap we can have a scrap and it teams want to run we can out-run them.
“I think it’s very important not to just go down one route and say ‘we’re a passing side and we’ll do this.’
“You’ve got to have a Plan B and a Plan C. Take Saturday’s game at Walsall. The management realised that they were a good passing side and that they wanted us to start chasing them and if we’d have tried to press them on a day like Saturday, when it was blistering hot, we’d soon have run out of steam.
“As it was it was probably the most I’ve ever sweated after a game; it was extremely humid. But the fact that we picked up three points made it worthwhile.
“When you play the sort of game we played that day it takes hard work and discipline. If one player doesn’t do his job then, like a pack of cards, it can all start falling down.
“So it was pleasing that we all stuck together and showed discipline to say that we are a group of lads who haven’t been together very long.”
But Syers is keen to stress that there is more to the new-look Rovers than hard work and discipline.
“When you look at the front four in our first two games, Billy Paynter and Chris Brown and Kyle Bennett and David Cotterill it is a frightening attacking four along with the likes of James Coppinger and Robbie Blake.
“Myself and Martin Woods will also be looking to join in attacks.
“If we can compete defensively then with the quality we’ve got up the field you would hope we’d win a lot of games on the back of that. You look at players like Jamie (McCombe) and Rob (Jones) and they’ve both helped teams win promotion from this level so they know what it is all about.
“They are both very experienced players and they’ll keep you going and talking to you and telling you where they want you to be.
“That’s one of the secrets of success. If everyone is communicating and working well and working hard for each other you’ll always be in with a chance. If you look at the top 15 or 16 players we’ve got here now it’s a good level. If the manager can bring in another two or three, which he is looking to do, we’ll have a very good squad.”
Teams and ref
ROVERS (possible): G Woods; Quinn, Jones, McCombe, Spurr; Cotterilll/Coppinger, Syers, M Woods, Bennett; Brown, Paynter.
CRAWLEY (possible): Jones; Connolly, Davis, McFadzean, Saddler; Simpson, Adams, Akpan, Bullam; Clarke, Alexander.
Trevor Kettle (Berks). Mr Kettle showed himself to be not afraid to dish out the cards last season, booking 96 players and sending off eight in 22 games.
He booked nine and sent three off in the Oldham-Charlton game and handed out ten yellow and a red in the Burnley-Middlesbrough clash at Turf Moor. He twice booked eight players in a match.