since 1878

Ipswich Town (0) 2 - 3 (3) Doncaster Rovers

NPower Championship 2011-12

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Referee: Simon Hooper

Manager: Paul Jewell

Portman Road 15:00

Attendance: 17,184

Manager: Dean Saunders

Match Number: 3428


 Josh Carson (53)
 Michael Chopra (90)
 ElHadji Diouf (18)
 Billy Sharp (24)
 ElHadji Diouf (39)


Billy SharpJames Hayter (69)
ElHadji DioufJames OConnor (82)


 Simon Gillett (35)
 Brian Stock (59)



Neil Sullivan

George Friend

Shelton Martis

Richard Naylor

Pascal Chimbonda

Brian Stock

Simon Gillett

Herita Ilunga

Billy Sharp

ElHadji Diouf

James Coppinger



Jonathan Maxted

James OConnor

Giles Barnes

James Hayter

Kyle Bennett

Match Report

El Hadji Diouf double for Doncaster puts Ipswich to the sword

The Doncaster Rovers experiment is finally shown signs of success. The club's controversial arrangement with the agent Willie McKay by which 90 minutes in a Rovers shirt has been turned into an elongated personal advertisement for certain players, bore fruit at Portman Road, with El Hadji Diouf, the latest of McKay's recruits to the club, inspiring Rovers to a 3-2 win that keeps them in touch with the rest of the division.

The arrangement places much of Rovers' transfer policy into the hands of McKay, who has pledged to bring out-of-favour or disgruntled talent from around Europe to South Yorkshire, providing them with a platform with which to display their talents to other clubs. Doncaster pay no more than £2,000-a-week to the player and will get a cut of any eventual transfer fee – as will McKay.

So far, three players have arrived under the arrangement – Diouf and Pascal Chimbonda (previously free agents), and Hérita Ilunga (on loan from West Ham), while the former Real Madrid midfielder Mahamadou Diarra has been mentioned by McKay as a possible future recruit.

The trio all started for the visitors, with Diouf, in particular, impressing enough to suggest his spell on Rovers' supermarket shelf will be a short one. The Senegal international was unmarked from James Coppinger's 18th-minute cross to nod Rovers ahead. Six minutes later, Billy Sharp, also given the freedom of the Ipswich area, headed home the second, and before half-time Diouf had made it three, slotting home coolly from the edge of the box. Josh Carson and Michael Chopra gave the scoreline respectability for the hapless home side in the second half.

McKay, who is being paid £100 a week by Doncaster, will be delighted if his clients continue to impress. He has made no bones about his motivation for his FA-approved agreement with the club – "I'm doing this to prove it can be done and I've been honest enough to admit I'm only here for the money" – but the arrangement has split supporters. Some feel the club has debased itself, becoming a shop window for players interested in using Rovers only as a stepping stone to loftier clubs, others have been swayed by promises of star signings and the potential for a future away from the Championship's relegation region.

Performances like this one from Diouf have the potential to sway the staunchest critics. The 30-year-old confirmed what was already known: he remains a little bit too good for the Championship. And when nine players squared up in the Doncaster penalty area in the second half, Diouf was one of those, remarkably for him, strolling away from the trouble. "They just don't give the ball away," said the Rovers manager Dean Saunders of his former Premier League trio. Paul Jewell, his Ipswich counterpart, also named the three individually in his post-match briefing.

Despite the widespread scepticism, the chairman, John Ryan, sees it as the only way forward for a club losing £4m a year. "It was the only way I could think of staving off relegation and moving forward," he told the Yorkshire Post this month. "We feel this different approach will give us a chance to compete with the big boys in the league."

That remains to be seen, but the performance at least suggests a move away from the murky depths of the Championship and on this evidence it would be a surprise if Diouf fails to find a club of greater status (not to mention greater capacity for wages) when his three-month deal ends.

Everybody wins, then? Except for those who believe that football should be something other than a cash-stuffed piñata to be thwacked in ever more creative ways.

John Ashdown (The Guardian)

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2011-12 Reports