Sunday, 18 January 2009

As Saints plunge again, what next for Rupert of the Rovers?

Rupert Lowe's decision to replace a painting of Lawrie Macmenemy with one of a steam train given by Doncaster Rovers in November seemed to sum it up. After defeat to their Yorkshire rivals yesterday, Saints, who now lie in 23rd place, now look further away from the glory days of 1976 than ever. Two goals from Martin Woods and James Coppinger handed rivals Doncaster a crucial victory at St. Marys.

Saints 1 - Doncaster 2

Doncaster are hardly world-beaters, but you don't have to be Manchester Utd to get a win at St. Marys these days. Our home record this season (one win from 14) is now beyond ridiculous and it looks dubious as to whether that solitary win can be added to. It was a familiar tale yesterday, as a weak visiting side packed the midfield and put the stoppers on Saints' passing football. After plenty of first half chances for either side, Saints sleptwalked into the second half and were undone by poor defending. Marek Saganowski's injury time goal was nothing other than a consolation, as things reached boiling point at St. Marys.

Given the dire plight of the club, Saints fans had remained relatively supportive this season, but something snapped yesterday. Anti-Lowe chants reverberated around the stadium and Saints fans had to be restrained by stewards as they flooded down to the dugout to confront Jan Poortvliet. The Dutch manager had the pluck to take it like a man and not respond, but he must be left wondering what more he has to give the club (who cannot even afford to fire him). With a terrible goal difference, Saints now effectively lie three points from safety and will certainly be relegated unless they can turn things around at home.

The club is truly in a state of disarray. Amid the chants and vitriol, there were reports of fights between Saints fans in the Northam End and a protest outside the ground afterwards. Levels of anger have reached unprecedented levels. Saints' descent seems bottomless at the moment and one must wonder where it will end.

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