Doncaster Rovers: Ferguson lays down gauntlet to Mandeville
And now the 19-year-old’s challenge, boss Darren Ferguson says, is to stay there.
Mandeville followed up his gamechanging cameo at Exeter City by scoring a 90th minute winner against Hartlepool United on Saturday.
John Marquis also scored his tenth goal of the season as third-placed Rovers maintained their record of scoring in every league game and closed the gap on leaders Plymouth Albion to five points with a 2-1 victory.
Afterwards, Ferguson said: “I made the decision to play Liam at about 5.30pm last Saturday.
“I had to play him. I can’t ignore what he did. I had to play him and then balance off the rest of the team.”
He added: “I thought he was very good. I said before the game there’s nothing better when you’re a young lad than getting your teammates out of trouble. I can give him all the praise but when you get it off your teammates that really makes a difference.
“I thought he was a handful, got his goal. Both of the strikers have scored so I’m really pleased.”
Ferguson admitted that, late on, he feared the winning goal might not come. He was asked after the game he considered taking Mandeville off.
He replied: “No. He needs to get over all that tired nonsense. He’s 19, he’s in the team and he needs to stay in the team. He needs to make sure Willo doesn’t get back in the team. That’s his challenge.
“If he scores goals, he’ll be fine. It doesn’t make any difference to me who’s playing. I think he realises now that he’s at a level where he needs to be consistent.”
Goalkeeper Marko Marosi suffered blurred vision but is expected to be fit for this weekend. His replacement Ross Etheridge also broke a finger.