The Verdict: Be more fierce than Lions

James Coppinger in action against Burnley. Picture: Liz Mockler D8263LM
James Coppinger in action against Burnley. Picture: Liz Mockler D8263LM
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Rovers will have to fight just like the Lions if they are to tame Millwall on Saturday.

They did exactly that on Tuesday night by battling to a much needed and morale-boosting win against Burnley.

They did exactly that on Tuesday night by battling to a much needed and morale-boosting win against Burnley.

It was just the sort of spirited performance that was required after a dreadful run of defeats that suddenly had everyone looking nervously over their shoulders at the wrong end of the Championship table.

And the players on the pitch will once again need to become Donny ‘dogs of war’ if they are to come away from the New Den with anything other than a beating.

Too often this season Rovers have been second best to teams intent on stopping them play their normal free-flowing football.

And they can certainly expect that sort of approach from the Lions this weekend.

To harass and hurry Doncaster in possession appears to be the best way to beat them - or at least ruffle their feathers.

But at least on Tuesday there were clear signs that Rovers were ready to fight fire with fire.

The midfield looked considerably more durable with the welcome return of Brian Stock and with Paul Keegan protecting in front of the back four.

The graft that the side got through when not in possession of the ball was a welcome sight after a miserable few weeks during which heads seemed to drop at the first sign of trouble.

Doncaster haven’t been bullied as such this season.

But the Championship has unquestionably become even more unforgiving this time around – and more teams this season have shown an unwillingness to stand by and watch Rovers play pretty triangles around them.

Teams are working their socks off to stop Doncaster’s pretty passing.

And it’s up to O’Driscoll’s men to at least match or better the opposition’s work rate - like they did against Burnley – in order to get positive results.

During the losing run no one was sticking a foot in in the middle of the park.

No one was taking the game by the scruff of the neck.

But thankfully that changed in midweek – and the crowd responded to a more passionate performance.

Rovers need to earn the right to start playing the attractive passing game for which they are known.

And if they can earn that right this weekend at the New Den, where they can expect another almighty scrap, there’s no reason they can’t get a result in London.

Millwall are the perfect example of what can be achieved in this division with a team ethic based on hard work and organisation alone.

The Lions aren’t blessed with the sort of raw talent and skill that Doncaster can boast within their ranks.

They don’t have a James Coppinger or John Oster type capable of running the show or producing something out of nothing.

But what the Lions do possess is a fierce team spirit and a willingness to battle.

They both impressed and surprised me at the Keepmoat earlier in the season with their level of commitment and cohesiveness - even though Rovers ultimately came from a goal down to win 2-1 on that occasion.

And Doncaster will have to show the same sort of fighting spirit and character if they are to avoid defeat at one of the country’s most intimidating venues.

Kenny Jackett’s clearly got everyone pulling in the same direction at Millwall and they’ve reaped their rewards by emerging as shock play-off contenders.

They’re a difficult side to play against on their own patch and in Steve Morison they have a striker who leads the line with passion and presence.

But Rovers were like a wounded animal in midweek and bounced back against the Clarets.

They’ll have to be prepared to roll up their sleeves and dig in again on Saturday - and if they win the physical battle with the Lions they can emerge victorious.Millwall 1 Rovers 2