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Doncaster Rovers 4 Scunthorpe 0 - The Verdict

Rovers' Billy Paynter celebrates his goal with Tommy Spurr. Picture: Andrew Roe

Rovers' Billy Paynter celebrates his goal with Tommy Spurr. Picture: Andrew Roe

  • by Paul Goodwin
 

EVERY season has a watershed moment.

Last term it was when Millwall ran riot and the reality of relegation finally sunk in. The season before it was late drama at Sheffield United that led to the demise of Sean O’Driscoll.

But if Doncaster are to achieve something this time round - and this squad firmly believe they have the ability to do just that - then Saturday’s dismantling of a sorry Scunthorpe side could be that pivotal moment.

Rovers not only tore their not so dear neighbours to shreds but they ripped up the formbook at home by providing a fluid, fruitful and fun attacking display.

A tense and timid atmosphere at the Keepmoat Stadium was replaced by one of pride, unity and unequivocal joy as Rovers scored four at home for the first time since 2010 - a 4-3 win also against the Iron.

Crucially, this close-knit team also finally showed their hard core home support just what they are all about under Dean Saunders.

Their relentless work rate should never be called into question.

But while that sheer hard work, solid base and resoluteness have been crucial on the road, Rovers have rued a lack of craft, conviction and confidence in their own back yard.

That was until a poor Iron side rolled up and showed very little metal.

Everything dropped for Doncaster, including Christian Ribeiro’s unfortunate own goal and Iain Hume escaping an offside flag before he teed up David Cotterill for a second that took the sting out of Scunny.

But Doncaster more than earned that slice of luck.

They won this derby war by winning every single individual battle on the pitch. There was nothing fortunate about this victory.

Confidence was the decisive factor and when Rovers got the crucial first goal it was like a huge weight had been lifted from the players’ shoulders.

When the in-form Cotterill then tapped home just 40 seconds after the restart, Rovers stuck their collective chests out, while Scunthorpe wilted.

Saunders’ men could have had five or six, they were composed on the ball and more cultured in the final third as they battered their rivals into submission.

But the most satisfying thing about this victory was the element of fun that was at the forefront of it.

As the mist cleared from the Keepmoat, so did the sense of gloom that has been hovering over the place ever since relegation.

Rob Jones’ delirious fist pump at scoring against his former club was a picture book moment.

And then there was the moment when goalscorer Billy Paynter, sporting a quite brilliant Movember effort, comically took the acclaim of the fans twice when his number was held up and then changed late in the second half.

This was a day that put a smile on everyone connected with Doncaster Rovers. It was also Dean Saunders’ best day in charge of Doncaster.

Let’s not get carried away. Rovers will face much tougher opposition than Scunthorpe over the coming weeks, while an injury to Jones, Cotterill or Hume could be enough to de-rail the bandwagon.

But more performances of this ilk could see Saturday’s smiles turn into more permanent grins.

Was it a watershed moment? We’ll find out in April.

@paulgoodwinDFP

 

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