Paul Goodwin’s match report: Colchester United 0 Doncaster Rovers 1

Theo Robinson in action at Colchester. Picture: Steve Uttley
Theo Robinson in action at Colchester. Picture: Steve Uttley
Have your say

This League One business can be quite good fun. And, whisper it quietly, but Doncaster Rovers look like they are beginning to enjoy themselves.

After the ups and then downs of the first two Saturdays of the new league season, Doncaster have produced two performances laced with promise.

Kyle Bennett celebrates.

Kyle Bennett celebrates.

They were pleasing on the eye against Preston, arguably worth more than the point they pocketed.

And they carried the feel-good factor of Nathan Tyson’s last gasp leveller into their clash with an admittedly much more limited Colchester outfit.

Paul Dickov’s remoulded side looked confident on the ball, defended doggedly throughout and, but for some wayward finishing, would have sealed their third straight away win in much more convincing fashion.

Bar a bad half hour against Port Vale, what’s the most pleasing aspect of the way Rovers have started the season? This young, tight-knit squad genuinely look like they’re playing with a collective smile on their face.

Kyle Bennett celebrates with James Coppinger

Kyle Bennett celebrates with James Coppinger

They are definitely enjoying playing in the 4-2-3-1 system that was employed post-Vale as a way of improving ball retention. It’s had the desired effect.

James Coppinger and Kyle Bennett, in particular, have shone thanks to the extra freedom they have been granted - and the wingmen were at the heart of a business-like win against United.

Coppinger was at his graceful best, setting up chances left, right and centre.

Bennett took longer to get into the game but emerged as the matchwinner thanks to a very smart second half finish.

The two of them are right on top of their game and, as Coppinger later confirmed, enjoyment is key to that form. Coppinger even went as far as saying he had not enjoyed a game as much as Saturday since Sean O’Driscoll departed in 2011. Some statement.

It’s not just those two either.

Rovers’ full back pairing of Reece Wabara and Cedric Evina had by far their best game of the season; Evina composed, Wabara keen to get forward.

Luke McCullough handled the obvious physical threat of Jabo Ibehre like a seasoned professional, while the seasoned professional alongside him, Jamie McCombe, did not put a foot wrong on his return to the side.

The addition of Marc De Val to the midfield has also been significant. The Spaniard did well again - rarely giving away possession, keeping things simple and also making important blocks and tackles in an enhanced shield for the back four.

The game itself was little to write home about, particularly a first half which promised much but then drifted almost aimlessly to the interval.

You could hear a pin drop inside the Weston Homes Community Stadium at times. There was very little to shout about, for either side - although Doncaster knew at the break, with a little more quality in the final third, that this game was there for the taking.

Rovers had started brightly, a theme so far this season, and their passing was noticeably crisp and confident - although it took them until midway through the half to register their first attempt on goal, De Val shooting well over after the ball fell to him on the edge of the box.

Colchester were playing more on the break. Their best effort came from Dominic Vose, who curled one just wide. The best chance of the half fell to Theo Robinson, gloriously picked out by Coppinger but unable to direct his header on target.

In something of a role reversal at the start of the second half, the home side enjoyed more controlled possession and Doncaster looked more of a threat countering.

And it was from a quick break, led by Coppinger, from which the winning goal arrived.

In a goalmouth scramble, Dean Furman failed to poke home Coppinger’s cross but Robinson recycled possession and found Bennett who did the rest - coolly turning his man and rifling a left foot shot into the bottom corner.

Rovers should have been out of sight by the last whistle.

Furman somehow contrived to miss from two yards out after Coppinger laid it on a plate. Robinson was equally wasteful after being sent clear by that man Coppinger again.

Colchester could have played all day and not scored.

For Rovers it was a case of job done - and there was no hiding the huge grin on Dickov’s face at full time.