With Rovers’ play-off push now at a make-or-break junction, Paul Goodwin looks back at the story of the season so far by picking out ten key moments:
1. Takeover deja-vu
Another collapsed takeover hindered Paul Dickov’s recruitment and squad conditioning for a second consecutive summer.
Andy Butler, Jonathan Obika and Peter Clarke, among others, slipped through the net, while key men like Paul Keegan, Richie Wellens and James Coppinger were forced to sit out friendlies and train independently as they waited on new contracts.
Rovers quickly became consistently inconsistent.
2. Seeing red
If anything epitomised Rovers’ stop-start opening, it was Harry Forrester’s two red cards in the space of four weeks.
A man Dickov had talked up as ‘potentially the best player in League One’ has since failed to deliver on a consistent basis, although admittedly he has been in and out of the team.
3. Fleetwood flop
Doncaster have had some off days this season but arguably none as worse as the 3-1 defeat at Fleetwood in mid-October.
It proved to be something of a seminal moment for a furious Dickov. Cedric Evina has hardly been seen since. Change was required.
4. Butler arrives
Andy Butler made his debut in the 0-0 draw with MK Dons and did not feature in a losing Rovers team for seven straight matches. In the absence of Rob Jones, he instantly brought much-needed leadership and organisation to the back four, and his acquisition in January for a nominal fee made perfect sense for all parties.
Enda Stevens, added to the squad in November, also helped shore things up.
5. Gills fury
Rovers were slowly turning a corner but their woes at the Keepmoat Stadium continued and by early December they had won just one in ten on home soil.
The abject 2-1 defeat to Gillingham drew a hostile reaction from fans at full time which left Dickov and his players in no doubt what they thought.
It was a reaction that arguably shocked Rovers into life; they produced arguably their best home performance next up against Coventry and lost just two of their next 13, going from possible relegation candidates to play-off hopefuls.
6. Africa Cup of Nations
Rovers’ best football came early in the season when Dean Furman played an unfamiliar advanced role as part of a 4-1-4-1 system.
Dickov reverted to this set-up over Christmas but, when Furman departed for Afcon, Rovers struggled to adapt. After the highs of Coventry, Dickov’s men won just one in eight.
7. The Razak saga
Things might have been so different for Abdul Razak had he been available in January as a direct replacement for Furman. Instead the waiting for international clearance went on and on and on. Three months on, nobody is any the wiser as to what his best position is.
8. Five-star performance
After a disappointing home loss to Walsall, and a sequence of results that suggested Doncaster’s top six bid was faltering, a commanding 5-0 win at Crawley re-ignited confidence and belief in the camp.
Curtis Main also ended a ten-game run without a goal, and is building up a head of steam for the run-in.
9. Preston pain
Even more significant than Jermaine Beckford’s last gasp equaliser, which again dented momentum, was the knee injury suffered by key man Keegan.
Rovers have won one in four in the Dubliner’s absence.
10. Easter crunch
A mouth-watering double bill with play-off rivals Bradford and Sheffield United will go a long way to determining Doncaster’s fate.