Doncaster Rovers v Reading: Paul Goodwin’s verdict

El Hadji Diouf passes past darcy blake

El Hadji Diouf passes past darcy blake

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IN times of adversity people pull together and real men stand up to be counted.

That was certainly the case at the KC Stadium where Dean Saunders’ battlers attempted to put the club’s latest turmoil off the pitch firmly behind them.

And if Rovers continue to battle and scrap like they did against the Tigers then nobody will have any complaints with the playing side of things - regardless of what division the club ends up in next season.

No one wants to contemplate relegation.

But the departures of money men Dick Watson and Terry Bramall - combined with the gut-wrenching loss of Billy Sharp - not only cast a dark cloud over Doncaster in the build-up to Tuesday night’s war of attrition.

Their exits, which leave Rovers woefully short of funds and goals, have cast serious doubt on whether Doncaster can actually sustain a team in the second tier of English football.

But don’t let Saunders hear such downbeat comments and questions - because he is not about to give in without a huge fight.

And on the evidence of Tuesday, neither are his players.

Rovers can go into Saturday’s visit of Reading, admittedly not with a head of steam, but with a degree of momentum that belies the bad luck and bad news that has plagued them over the last few months.

They might have lost Watson and Bramall’s millions but you can’t buy the team spirit that Saunders appears to have installed.

And they might have lost their talisman Sharp but the exit of Rovers’ star individual may yet bring the team closer together.

Rovers did what everyone has been craving at Hull, they grinded out a point and stopped the rot away from home.

It was certainly not pretty and Rovers rode their luck at times but it was a very useful point against a side that could still go up automatically.

And if they can continue their impressive home form then they are still very much alive and kicking in the race for survival.

That is more than can be said of crisis-torn Nottingham Forest and rock bottom Coventry City, who appear to be in freefall.

The obvious concern is where are the goals coming from?

And although he has never been a prolific scorer, the ongoing negotiations with El Hadji Diouf are pivotal to Rovers’ relegation battle.

Diouf almost produced a bit of magic out of nothing to grab all three points at Hull - and if they were to lose his quality it might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Like Hull, Rovers face another side this weekend who they don’t boast a good record against.

The Royals arrive at the Keepmoat armed with new investment and EIGHT strikers to pick from - quite a contrast.

But if Rovers work as hard for each other as they did on Tuesday, they can be their equals.

Prediction: Rovers 1 Reading 1