Paul Goodwin: Eye-popping first goal stats reveal Rovers strength and weakness

Rovers' reliance on scoring the first goal is a head-scratcher for Paul Dickov.
Rovers' reliance on scoring the first goal is a head-scratcher for Paul Dickov.

Paul Dickov breezed into Doncaster Rovers last summer and immediately put huge emphasis on making his squad believe they could beat anyone in the Championship.

Mind over matter was his mantra.

And his persuasive powers of positive thinking appear to have had at least some effect. Victories over Leicester, QPR and Wigan show as much.

But further investigation - and a very honest revelation from inside the dressing room - would also seem to suggest that Doncaster may still be wrestling some psychological demons of the past.

Chris Brown’s observation last week that scoring the first goal had been key to the side’s good form in March, on the face of it, seemed fairly straightforward and unspectacular.

But it was possible to infer from it that Rovers are still a sensitive, temperamental being when it comes to their mindset at this level.

And the striker’s admission that conceding the first goal in a game led to his team becoming panicky pretty much confirmed it.

In other words, when Rovers go in front there is an understandable feeling of empowerment and confidence.

There’s a belief they can see the job through, like they made a habit of doing in League One last season.

But when they go behind in a game it’s a different story. For whatever reason, Rovers lack powers of recovery - and the stats back this up.

When Rovers have scored the first goal in a league game this term, which has happened on 15 occasions, they have gone on to win 10 of those games. A 67% conversion rate. Not bad at all.

Saturday’s defeat to Birmingham was just the second time this season Rovers have netted the first goal and lost. QPR away was the other occasion.

When Rovers concede the first goal, however, just like Tuesday night against Bolton, they rarely claw their way back.

The opposition have scored first in 21 games and no fewer than 18 of those - a whopping 86 per cent - have ended in defeat for Doncaster.

That number is so high that, despite Dickov’s best attempts to instil positive thinking, his team still appear to be plagued by either a lack of belief or conviction in that situation.

More players on the bench capable of changing a game? Starting games better? Time for a psychologist? Whatever the cure is for comeback phobia, the problem won’t be too far from Dickov’s mind.

Number of league games this season Rovers have scored first goal in: 15

Won 10: Blackburn h, Sheff Wed a, Leicester h, Yeovil h, Wigan h, Charlton h, Huddersfield h, Watford h, Sheff Wed h, Leeds a

Drew 3: Wigan a, Forest h, Barnsley h

Lost 2: QPR a, Birmingham h

Number of league games this season Rovers have conceded first goal in: 21

Won 1: QPR h,

Drew 2: Birmingham a, Blackpool a

Lost 18: Blackpool h, Bournemouth h, Watford a, Burnley h, Reading a, Boro a, Brighton h, Charlton a, Bolton a, Leeds h, Derby a, Ipswich h, Blackburn a, Brighton a, Yeovil a, Bournemouth a, Burnley a, Bolton h

Number of 0-0 draws: 5

Huddersfield a, Barnsley a, Millwall h, Boro h, Forest a