The shout from the West Stand that irritated Grant McCann and why Doncaster Rovers fans should embrace this team

Mallik Wilks celebrates with James Coppinger
Mallik Wilks celebrates with James Coppinger

Let’s be frank, there has not been that much to get bums off seats at the Keepmoat Stadium since the halcyon days under Sean O’Driscoll.

Even the promotion-winning campaign of 2012-13 was quite a tough watch at times.

John Marquis scored his tenth of the season against the Gills.

John Marquis scored his tenth of the season against the Gills.

And I’m discounting the recent success in League Two simply because Doncaster should never have dropped to that level.

But since Grant McCann arrived in the summer there has been no shortage of goals, entertainment and endeavour.

Saturday’s latest instalment, a six-goal thriller which went right to wire, might have left both Rovers and Gillingham disappointed with just a point.

But no one went home feeling short-changed.

So it’s understandable why McCann felt slightly irritated by one supporter’s somewhat barbed comment within earshot about his team’s recent defensive frailty.

Considering his side sit two points adrift of an automatic promotion spot, and had played well despite trailing 0-2 at the break, the smattering of boos that greeted the half time whistle was also incredibly harsh. 

Rovers fans, even those who are hardest to please, should really embrace this team and what McCann is trying to do.

Enjoy the ride.

Because, as a collective, they’re giving it absolutely everything they’ve got.

The togetherness and team spirit is all too obvious – and was required to twice come from behind against the Gills.

And, with just a few tweaks, McCann has transformed the way this team go about their business.

The build-up play is more proactive than ponderous.

The emphasis is on attacking fluidity, not defensive structure.

There is a clear willingness to gamble and take risks. 

Mistakes will happen. Gaps will appear. The opposition will get chances.

More often than not these things will be the consequence of such an ultra-positive approach.

Rovers won’t always play well and win. They showed at Rochdale the previous week that they are also capable of digging out a result.

But, ultimately, McCann has not only so far got Rovers winning and mixing it in the top six but he’s also made them more watchable.

The least he deserves is the fans’ full backing.  

THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT

After the game, BBC Radio Sheffield asked McCann if the reality is that Doncaster are making life difficult for themselves at present?

Rovers won 3-2 at Rochdale and went down 4-0 to Fleetwood, a freak scoreline given the pattern of the game, last time out at home.

“It was enjoyable though, wasn’t it?” replied McCann. “What do you want, a 1-0 win here?”

“Of course, I’d take a 1-0 win over 3-3 draw any day.

“Someone shouted down from the stands ‘you won’t get promoted conceding seven goals at home’ [in the last two league matches].

“He was quick to cheer us when it went 3-3.

“Let’s see where we are at the end of the season.”

He added: “We’ve made an impact in terms of our style of play this year.

“Fans have got every right to have an opinion but when you hear comments like that it hurts a bit.

“You’re working hard every week to put a team on the pitch to play entertaining football and to play on the front foot and to try and excite them.

“I think we’re doing that.

“It’s funny because when we scored I turned round and saw the same bloke cheering.

“If he doesn’t want to come to the promotion party at the end of the season then he can stay here.”

A MISSED OPPORTUNITY

Rovers had 32 shots on goal. Gillingham had three. Just let that sink in for a moment.

The entertainment value might have been high, but there was no denying this was a missed opportunity to secure back-to-back wins and really set things up beautifully for the much-anticipated visit of Sunderland on Tuesday.

Despite the circumstances, this was two points dropped rather than one point gained – and McCann acknowledged just that.

He and the team know they need to tighten up and become more clinical in front of goal on a more consistent basis.

Gillingham were there for the taking.

The visitors scored two fine goals but spent the majority of the game on the back foot and had little answer to Rovers’ constant waves of attacks.

At 2-2 there appeared to be only one winner.

But in the end a big slice of luck was needed just to claim a point as Paul Taylor’s deflected effort brought an end to the scoring.

Rovers had to hold their hands up after Barry Fuller’s spectacular effort from 30 yards.

But Tom Anderson was mugged by Tom Eaves for the second goal and Marquis was at fault when his mistake at the back post allowed Max Ehmer the time and space to lash home the Gills’ third.

Goals from Marquis and Wilks – both from James Coppinger corners – showed the spirit in the camp.

The surprising thing was Rovers did not go onto win – and the negative reaction of a handful of their fans.