THE last time young Doncaster Rovers keeper Gary Woods lined up against Ipswich Town at the Keepmoat Stadium he ended up picking the ball out of the net no fewer than six times.
The 6-0 defeat handed out by the Tractor Boys last season ranks as one of Rovers’ biggest ever home defeats.
It was only the then 20 year-old’s fourth senior game and he readily put his hand up to admit that he was at fault for a couple of the goals.
But even though Woods wasn’t to blame for the bulk of them, as injury-hit Rovers were put to the sword, such an experience can affect a keeper’s confidence.
Although left out of the next two games by the then manager Sean O’Driscoll, Woods showed maturity beyond his years in dealing with the situation and he was back in goal in the 1-1 draw at home to Watford where he showed no signs of nerves or lack of confidence.
“It wasn’t a pleasant experience but I didn’t let it affect me,” he told The Sta. “When you are young you just have to learn from it and move on. If you dwell on it you are not going to keep progressing.
“It was just one of those days you sometimes get in football. They caught us on a bad day, when we didn’t even have a recognised striker, and they hit us for six.
“We’ll be going out to try and put the record straight and we’ll certainly be looking to try and win on Saturday,” added Woods, recently restored as the club’s first-choice keeper after what has been a frustrating campaign.
Ranked No 1 ahead of veteran Neil Sullivan, at the start of the campaign after a string of impressive displays standing in for the injured former Scottish international in the second half of last season, Woods has spent most of the season warming the bench or not even making the squad since the arrival of Dean Saunders as manager in September.
“The gaffer said that I was too young and inexperienced to be playing regularly in the position we were in when he took over,” he said.
“He has brought in several more experienced keepers this season and it has just been a case of trying to take my chance whenever it came.
“It’s good to have been back playing again in recent weeks and it’s been good to have kept back-to-back clean sheets in the last two games.
“It would be nice to keep another clean sheet on Saturday and I don’t see why we can’t. They haven’t got anything to play for so I don’t see why we can’t catch them off-guard and beat them.”
El Hadji Diouf has been linked with a summer switch to Leeds United. The Rovers striker will be a free agent at the end of the season.