A performance that typifies the season so far - Doncaster Rovers 2 MK Dons 1
If you wanted a snapshot of Doncaster Rovers' season so far simply watch a re-run of this victory over MK Dons.
Darren Ferguson’s side were infuriatingly poor in the first half and fortunate to go in at half time only trailing to Chuks Aneke’s third minute strike.
But the second half was a totally different story as Rovers rallied to dominate the game and secure a much-needed three points with goals from John Marquis and Matty Blair.
It was a chalk and cheese performance which perfectly illustrated the best and worst of Rovers.
Aneke’s goal knocked the stuffing out of the hosts and was the cue for a nervy, disjointed display which was met with a chorus of boos on the half time whistle.
But those boos turned to cheers as substitute Alfie Beestin inspired an impressive comeback.
STORY OF THE GAME
Beestin injected some life and quality into Rovers and changed the course of the game.
But, in truth, MK Dons should have been out of sight well before the 20-year-old took centre stage.
Having grabbed an early lead the visitors laid siege to the Rovers goal and were only denied by a combination of Ian Lawlor, the woodwork and also the officials.
Rovers were most fortunate to survive when Scott Golbourne volleyed against the post after some hesitant defending and when Aneke did convert from close range it was ruled that the ball had gone out of play.
At 0-1 the door was still ajar and Doncaster went storming through it following Ferguson’s pep talk and personnel changes.
They came out with the bit between their teeth, dictated the tempo and levelled on 54 minutes when Beestin headed James Coppinger’s corner back towards goal and Marquis claimed the final touch.
On 71 minutes, following some good build-up, Beestin then laid on the winner for another substitute Blair as Rovers bounced back from their midweek defeat at Wigan.
THE TWO SIDES OF ROVERS
A first half display in which Rovers were panicky defensively and unable to string anything together going forward provided an unwanted flashback to this season’s low points. The second half pointed very clearly at the obvious potential of this young team.
Such inconsistency rather sums up this season and blowing hot and cold might just be par for the course as Rovers continue to adapt to life back in the third tier. Pinpointing why it is happening and how to prevent it is another matter entirely.
The team’s youthfulness makes them liable to mistakes, like the one from Rodney Kongolo in the build-up to Aneke’s goal.
Continuity in selection, better luck with injuries and perhaps an injection of experience come January would certainly help.
Take out the Wigan game and Rovers have unquestionably turned a corner since that sobering month of September. However, this victory only served to highlight their volatile nature. You’re never quite sure which Doncaster is going to turn up.
VIEW FROM THE DUGOUT
Darren Ferguson: “The early goal affected us too much and we were probably fortunate to be only one goal behind at half time.
“The second half we showed the character you have to show at times, especially in this league.
“Credit to the players for that, they deserve a lot of credit for coming back and winning that game.”
Robbie Neilson: “In the first half, I thought we did everything we had spoken about doing.
“We made it very difficult for Doncaster to get into the game at all.
“We scored a goal, we had one chalked off, hit the post, we’ve missed chances and I think a second goal would have been a big turning point in the game.
“But the second half wasn’t acceptable - Doncaster changed their shape a wee bit and became very direct, very aggressive, got in our face and we didn’t stand up to the game.”