DONCASTER ROVERS: Martin Woods sets his sights high

Martin Woods
Martin Woods

MARTIN Woods set Doncaster Rovers on their way to a hard-fought 3-1 FA Cup first round victory over Bradford Park Avenue last weekend.

The former Scottish Under-21 international scored the club’s opening goal and went close to adding to his tally on another couple of occasions as he made the most of a fairly rare attacking role this season.

“It suited me better playing a wee bit more forward and it felt good and I enjoyed it,” he told The Star. “It was good to get through to the second round even though we were playing against a non-League team.

“I thought we made hard work of it in the second half after coming in 2-0 up, though you’ve got to give them credit; I thought they played well.

“Probably some people in the crowd might have got a bit concerned when they got it back to 2-1 and looked to be getting on top.

“But I was never worried; I just felt that we needed to go up another notch, and we did that, and Chris Brown scored third and we could have had a couple of more after that. Had we done that it wouldn’t have reflected the score because, as I say, they played very well.”

Rovers’ win over the Conference North side, which earned them an away tie away to League One rivals Oldham in the second round, stretched their unbeaten run in all competitions to seven.

But the run, which had also taken them through to the Northern Area quarter-final of the JP Trophy as well as to fifth place in League One, came to an abrupt end in Tuesday’s home game against lowly Crewe, losing 2-0.

After back-to-back away wins against top-six rivals Tranmere and Notts County, Rovers had targeted six points from their two home games this week.

But it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that Rovers, who dropped a place in midweek, could end up empty handed come 5pm tomorrow. Woods, for one, is not taking the fast-improving Cherries lightly.

“Eddie Howe has recently gone back there as manager and they’ve brought in a couple of good players in on loan, including striker Lee: Barnard from Southampton, so I think it is going to be a tough game and one that we’ll definitely need to be up for,” he said.“In fact, it could the toughest home game we’ve had so far. I think that they are a good team and under-achieved until the last few games.

“I don’t know the reasons why Eddie Howe left a Championship club to go back to a League One club, albeit one he’s previously played for and managed. Maybe Bournemouth offered him a bigger budget than Burnley were able to. I don’t know.

“What I do know is that they are likely to come here and try and play football because that is what Eddie Howe’s teams are renowned for.

“He played under our former manager Sean O’Driscoll and I think he carried on the football legacy established by him when he first took over as Bournemouth manager.

“As I say, they’ll come here and have a go at us which few teams have done this season.”

Rovers home form remains a concern but they had looked to be starting to put it together better at home, where they were unbeaten in four prior to Tuesday night“We’ve been picking up some good result but there is still room for improvement,” said Woods. “We could be better on the ball and be a bit more imaginative, but the way we’ve been defending away from home has been really good.

Although Woods missed the games at Tranmere and Notts County with a trapped nerve in his lower back, he has had no problem with the groin problem which had dogged him for much of the last two seasons and he is targeting a promotion challenge.

“We are definitely thinking of promotion; we’d be letting ourselves down if we weren’t thinking that way,” he said.