Rovers: O’Connor proves he has a positive part to play

Rovers: Doncaster Rovers latest news, reports and more.
Rovers: Doncaster Rovers latest news, reports and more.
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DEFENDER James O’Connor is primarily paid to try to stop goals though he does chip in with the odd goal.

He also plays a part in the build-up to goals as was the case in one of the best individual strikes seen at the Keepmoat Stadium in the club’s last match against Leicester.

“It was a great vision by Stocky [Brian Stock] to see Billy [Sharp] from that distance, and a great ball, and obviously the finish was different class,” said the right-back who supplied Stock with the initial pass.

“The 2-1 win was a massive result for us against Leicester, who have a really strong squad, especially in the position we are in,” added O’Connor.

“I think we’ve been really poor over the last 18 months to two years coming from behind and I don’t think that we’ve won many games in that situation.

“But in the last couple of months I think we’ve now come from behind on a couple of occasions to grab a result

“When you’ve got people who can score goals in the team you always feel more confident in a tight match. And when you are under the cosh you still feel that you can nick a win rather than holding on for a point.

“I think that the back-four is developing an understanding. Habib [Beye] has come in and done really well but for me Sam Hird has been different class in the last few games.

“He’s obviously taken a bit of stick in the past but I can’t speak too highly of him at the minute. He’s one of those who goes in every day and works as hard as he can. He listens and tries to learn and he’s getting the better for it now.

“He’s an intelligent player and he reads the game quite well and I think he is revelling in playing regularly.

“I think it is difficult for anyone coming in and out of a team but he’s had a run of games and he’s getting better and better.

“Gary Woods came back into the side against Leicester. He’s got big shoes to fill coming in for Carl [Ikeme] who has done really well, plus Sully [Neil Sullivan] has been excellent as well.

“But I thought he did well and he couldn’t do anything about their goal. We finish the year off with back-to-back away games at Burnley today and Watford at the weekend and away games are always hard in this division.

“We’ve got to set our stall out at Turf Moor not to get beat and if we can do that it would be a good result to take into the Watford game.

“If we can keep it tight again at the back then, as I say, with the quality of strikers we’ve got in the team we are always going to have a chance of scoring. If you’ve got belief that you are still in the game you can approach say, the 80-minute mark, either a goal behind or level and still fancy that you can either nick it or get a point.”

Although O’Connor has started to get close to his best form in recent games, he admits that he won’t be sad to see the end of 2011.

“It is probably the first time in my career that I’ve suffered a few injuries,’’ he reflected.