Doncaster Rovers v Notts County: Paul Goodwin’s verdict

Rovers' Adam Lockwood jumps over the tackle of Barnsley's Bobby Hassell. Picture: Andrew Roe
Rovers' Adam Lockwood jumps over the tackle of Barnsley's Bobby Hassell. Picture: Andrew Roe

YOU get the feeling there is something of a “new kid at school syndrome” at Doncaster Rovers.

Sean O’Driscoll’s class of yesteryear are like the cool sixth formers, with friendships and bonds firmly in place.

Then the new kids started arriving in September, many from overseas.

Divisions on the playground are somewhat inevitable - but headmaster Dean Saunders will not care one bit.

Saunders is not interested in playing happy families.

All he cares about, in the short term at least, is fielding the best possible eleven and getting the best out of them.

All he is interested in is getting results, and making sure Doncaster are where they want to be in the all-important end of term league table.

And the influx of newcomers - in one way or another - should help Saunders gain that vital Championship pass mark.

As has been well documented, nine out of the eleven players who performed so admirably against Barnsley represent Rovers’ so-called old-guard.

In all honesty, probably a little too much has been made out of it.

But there is no hiding the fact that a few of those lads have definitely had their noses put out of joint by the arrival of Willie McKay’s class of 2011.

The likes of Adam Lockwood, James O’Connor, Kyle Bennett and James Hayter all had a massive point to prove in Monday’s derby - and they made it in style.

But it was not just about individuals.

The collective group also stood up as one and said to Saunders that they can dig Doncaster out of trouble.

Saunders, perhaps, would not have got that reaction were the likes of Pascal Chimbonda, Habib Beye, Habib Bamogo and Mamadou Bagayoko not breathing down their necks.

All of a sudden Rovers have intense competition for places, which is a very welcome scenario given the injury problems encountered over the last year.

And while certain players in the past were perhaps guilty of playing within a comfort zone - knowing they would be on the teamsheet every week regardless of their performance - that is certainly not the case under the current regime.

One should not forget the contribution that McKay’s imports have made either.

Beye’s experience has brought the best out of Sam Hird.

Carl Ikeme made a big, albeit short, contribution to the cause.

And El Hadji Diouf is capable of a moment of magic - which Rovers will be grateful for if the worst happens and Billy Sharp departs.

The key for Rovers is finding that consistency and that is why I expect no slacking in Saturday’s FA Cup third round tie with Notts County.

I expect the players who have the shirt to battle to hold onto it - and if Rovers can reproduce the same sort of discipline and determination that we saw on Monday they should avoid a potential banana skin.

The FA Cup may be low down on many people’s priorities but if Doncaster take their foot off the gas this weekend it could be detrimental to their season.

Winning breeds confidence - and I expect Saunders’ scholars to pass their Magpies test with flying colours.

Rovers 2 Notts County 0