ANALYSIS AND HIGHLIGHTS: Doncaster Rovers 2 Gillingham 2 - Team and fans in unison at Rovers

When a team and its fans are in complete unison it can be a very powerful thing.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 18th January 2016, 8:48 am
Updated Monday, 18th January 2016, 8:49 am
Rovers' players celebrate Andy Williams' late equaliser.

Look at Leicester City, Stoke City and Crystal Palace, all riding high in the top half of the Premier League.

It’s no coincidence those clubs arguably play in front of the noisiest, most fervent home fans in the country.

Doncaster's players celebrate Andy Williams' late goal

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At Doncaster Rovers, purely down to numbers, things are slightly different but the recent Black Bank movement has unquestionably transformed the Keepmoat Stadium atmosphere for the better.

Not so long ago, should Rovers be trailing 2-0 at home, you would probably be able to hear a pin drop, fans would drift towards the exit gate from 70 minutes onwards.

Now things are very different.

With their team two down to an efficient Gillingham side, the South Stand singers and flag bearers took that as their cue to raise their game.

Doncaster's Andy Williams celebrates his late goal

And when Cameron Stewart curled home a trademark free kick to halve the deficit with quarter of an hour left, the atmosphere was so positive that you could almost sense what was about to happen next.

Andy Williams coolly slotted in an equaliser and, as the noise reached a crescendo, Rovers could and perhaps should have snatched all three points.

Darren Ferguson did warn Gillingham in the run-up to this game that they would face a very different Doncaster side to the one that lost 1-0 at Priestfield in September in what turned out to be Paul Dickov’s final game in charge.

He was proved right - because this Rovers team simply do not know when they are beaten. And crucially now, neither do Rovers’ fans.

Doncaster's Conor Grant battles with Gillingham's Dominic Samuel

“To come back against a team that’s going so well shows the character of this team,” said Ferguson afterwards.

“But it’s not just the belief of the players - it’s the belief from everyone now that we can still win games when we go behind.

“We have to have better home form and we have to find a way of, if we can, scoring first at home.

“And there’s got to be a level of patience because obviously the expectations have gone up, quite rightly, which I’m happy about.

Cameron Stewart pulls one back with his free kick

“But the belief, for me, is with everyone at the moment. I think everyone believes we don’t know when we’re beaten.

“The crowd were outstanding again today.”

If the Black Bank has learned one thing since its inception, it is how they can positively affect things on the pitch.

It happened recently against Crewe, with the type of dramatic comeback you’re only supposed to see once in a blue moon.

But were it not for some desperate Gills defending and slightly wasteful finishing inside a period of nine minutes of stoppage time, time added on after Stewart had to be stretchered off after suffering an horrendous looking neck injury, Rovers would have repeated the trick once again here.

The atmosphere inside the Keepmoat was strangely subdued before kick off after a power cut forced the club’s back-up system into operation. There was no music or announcements, while in the warm-up Nathan Tyson and Harry Middleton both aggravated hamstring muscles and were withdrawn from the game. Perhaps it was going to be one of those days.

Cameron Stewart is strechered off after falling on his neck

At half time the atmosphere wasn’t much better. Excuse the pun but Rovers lacked a spark.

The Gills were restricting them to shots from range and the well-organised visitors, who appeared to do the simple things very well, had seized the initiative in the tenth minute when Rory Donnelly volleyed in a deep cross from right back Ryan Jackson.

Bradley Dack came within inches of doubling that lead on the half hour when he headed Bradley Garmston’s cross onto the underside of the bar and the ball came down on the goal-line before bouncing to safety.

Rovers knew they had to be better upon the re-start.

But it was the Gills that came flying out of the traps and went further ahead when Dack played in Donnelly and he slotted it past Thorsten Stuckmann.

In the not so distant past, heads would have gone down on and off the pitch. But Rovers, as one, currently have the belief. The volume was raised and Fergie’s battlers kept plugging away.

A moment of quality from Stewart got them back into the game.

And there was a sense of inevitability when Williams received the ball from Evina, still with plenty to do, and rolled it past Stuart Nelson to earn his side a point.

It might have got even better for Rovers had Aaron Taylor-Sinclair and Williams not spurned very late chances, but their latest Keepmoat comeback had been a real team effort in every sense.

Doncaster's players celebrate Andy Williams' late goal
Doncaster's Andy Williams celebrates his late goal
Doncaster's Conor Grant battles with Gillingham's Dominic Samuel
Cameron Stewart pulls one back with his free kick
Cameron Stewart is strechered off after falling on his neck