Paul Goodwin: Confident Doncaster Rovers can prey on Plymouth’s vulnerability

Liam Mandeville (right) has made it hard for Darren Ferguson to leave him out.
Liam Mandeville (right) has made it hard for Darren Ferguson to leave him out.

Confidence is such a precious commodity in football.

And, putting it simply, Doncaster Rovers have it right now and Plymouth Argyle do not.

Rovers might have let standards slip in the second half at Stevenage where, at 3-0 up, they appeared uncertain whether to push on for another or hold what they had.

But ultimately winning the game, and making it four league victories on the spin, means Darren Ferguson’s men still ought to make the long journey south brimming with self-belief.

The three-goal blitz inside 11 minutes, and the clinical finishes from Liam Mandeville and Matty Blair in particular, epitomised a team that collectively believes it can blow sides away in this division when they are firing on all cylinders.

For those 11 minutes Rovers seized an opportunity, went for the kill and took full advantage.

And if they were to strike the first blow at Home Park on Saturday they possess the firepower to do exactly the same to a Plymouth team currently low on confidence.

In stark contrast to Doncaster, the Pilgrims are without a win in four games, have found the net just once during that run and have not kept a clean sheet in League Two since late-September.

According to the local media, Plymouth are no longer playing with a spark and have become vulnerable at the back, particularly from set pieces - and that vulnerability is something an in-form Rovers side could really prey on this weekend.

No one in the side currently portrays the surge in confidence more than Mandeville, who now looks like someone who fully believes he belongs at this level.

The teenager took his goal at the Lamex Stadium with a degree of authority and in doing so made it very hard for Ferguson to leave him out this weekend - despite the return to fitness of Andy Williams.

Whoever starts, Rovers have a clear psychological edge - and I expect them to make it count.

Prediction: Plymouth 1 Rovers 3