Doncaster Rovers' victory over Leyton Orient showed belief levels are rising
There is a strong belief within the Doncaster Rovers camp that if the performance is right, the result will follow.
And the belief is just growing and growing.
Saturday’s fully-deserved win against a limited Leyton Orient side showcased perfectly the self-belief and confidence that is currently oozing from Darren Ferguson’s promotion chasers - particularly on home soil where they are now unbeaten in 13 league games.
Rovers might have gone a goal down to a sublime freekick from Callum Kennedy.
But there was not a hint of panic or uncertainty about the way that Doncaster professionally went about their business and put their game-plan into practice.
They stuck to their passing principles, continued to probe away, and ultimately got their rewards with a third straight win that never really looked in any doubt - despite them falling behind in the 19th minute to Kennedy’s 35-yard screamer.
The only real fear was that Lady Luck was not shining on Rovers as they hit the woodwork three times - through Tommy Rowe, Andy Butler and Liam Mandeville - before Jordan Houghton fired in a richly-deserved equaliser on the stroke of half-time with a shot from the edge of the area.
Doncaster had fewer clear-cut chances after the break but were relentless in their play as Orient struggled to get out and succumbed to two penalties converted confidently by in-form teenager Liam Mandeville.
Mandeville sent Alex Cisak the wrong way after Matty Blair was upended by Orient substitute Josh Koroma just before the hour mark and then held his nerve from the spot seven minutes later after Rowe was sent tumbling by Tom Parkes.
Speaking post-match, Ferguson labelled it as the best performance of the season.
That was debatable. Rovers were more arrogant on the ball and more ruthless in front of goal at Morecambe earlier in the season - and arguably better in possession against Hartlepool United the previous weekend.
But there is no doubt there is now a growing belief among players and fans alike that consistent performances of this quality will get Rovers where they want to be come May.
If there was one moment in this game that summed up the gulf in class between the two sides it came courtesy of James Coppinger when he plucked a high ball out of the air with a perfect touch and got Rovers on the front foot in one motion.
Coppinger has been instrumental in the wins over Hartlepool and Orient, playing with an age-defying verve and vigour at the tip of the midfield diamond.
On Saturday he was also ably supported by Rowe and Houghton who conducted the game and bossed the midfield.
After the trip to Exeter Ferguson called for his side to gain more of a foothold in the engine room and his midfielders have stepped up to the plate.
A PROBLEM SOLVED?
The full-back areas have been a problem position for Rovers for a couple of years - probably ever since the depature of Paul Quinn, Tommy Spurr and James Husband - but Ferguson may have now hit upon a solution.
Craig Alcock’s return to the side at right-back has made a big difference.
And Aston Villa loanee Niall Mason, despite being predominantly right-footed, is doing an excellent job at left-back.
Rovers now have a genuine incentive next week when victory at Stevenage would take them top of the table - a feat which would only add to the belief and the buzz within this team at the moment.
But, more importantly, with some big games against the likes of Plymouth Argyle and Portsmouth just around the corner, Doncaster appear to be hitting form at just the right time.
Nine points out of nine in November, an average of two points per game, Rovers are currently hitting their targets.