Doncaster Rovers gave a clear indication of their potential by brushing aside Scunthorpe United to reach the third round of the FA Cup.
The Iron arrived at the Keepmoat Stadium as one of the country’s form teams, unbeaten in ten games and flying high in League One.
But they were no match for a robust Rovers outfit who showed exactly what they are capable of when they hit top gear and ran out convincing 3-0 winners.
Scunthorpe lack nothing at all in physicality but Doncaster not only stood up to that challenge, they embraced it.
A performance full of endeavour, and one also not short on skill, was personified by Tommy Rowe’s two goals.
His willingness to close down Matt Gilks was rewarded when he charged down the goalkeeper’s clearance and the ball fell kindly. His delightful finish was just reward for his team’s energetic and imposing start.
His second combined some excellent footwork with balance and strength as he bustled his way into the box and finished superbly.
Against the run of play, it was a timely strike which curbed Scunthorpe’s best spell following the restart.
Duane Holmes had gone closest to an equaliser before the break when his shot was hacked off the line by Niall Mason.
But Rovers’ relentless pressing and willingness to put their foot in, combined with some really composed passing, kept the visitors mainly at arm’s length before substitute Liam Mandeville’s smart finish in stoppage time put the icing on the cake.
AGRRESSIVE START WAS KEY
There was a very clear determination not to repeat the dreadful first half performance against MK Dons - and the way Rovers burst out of the blocks laid the foundations for victory.
Importantly, Rowe made their aggressive start count on the scoresheet.
But the way Rovers set about the opposition and got in their faces - something Matty Blair and John Marquis did especially well - set the tone for an impressive all-round performance.
VIEW FROM THE DUGOUT
Darren Ferguson: “I’m absolutely delighted with the players. We were brave on the ball and we played the way I wanted them to.
“That’s what pleased me the most, the way we try to play, today we were very good at it. When we are, we’re a good team.
“It was a comfortable win. We started on the front foot, winning second balls, pressing them, but some of the football was outstanding.
“For a 90-minute performance it was probably the most complete we’ve had this season.”
Graham Alexander: “In all aspects of our game we were out of character. We know the standards we set ourselves as a group and we were below them.
“Apart from half time to their second goal, when we were the team in the ascendancy, we didn’t really play how we play.
“Sometimes we weren’t allowed to play as there were some really strange decisions especially with the first two bookings. It meant we couldn’t compete at the highest level, which compounded the performance.”