Paul Goodwin’s big match preview: Port Vale trip biggest test of character yet for Rovers

Rovers will come up against former loan striker Uche Ikpeazu on Saturday.
Rovers will come up against former loan striker Uche Ikpeazu on Saturday.

Everyone has bad days. Even the very best.

Take the weekend just gone. European champions Barcelona, albeit a more inexperienced side than usual, crashed 4-0 to Athletic Bilboa in the Spanish Super Cup.

Chelsea took a beating at Manchester City too. It happens. It’s the nature of the beast.

The problem at Doncaster Rovers last season was that those off days happened way too often. They lost by two clear goals on eight occasions and by three clear goals on a further five. They had a soft centre.

Two of those bad days at the office came against Saturday’s opponents Port Vale; a 3-1 humbling at home that dampened early season optimism, and a 3-0 defeat at Vale Park that will be remembered by Rovers fans as the day Abdul Razak finally started a game for Doncaster. It was a performance that neither Razak, nor Rovers, would care to remember with much affection.

So this weekend’s trip to the Potteries should in theory represent a fairly good gauge for the new ‘tougher to play against’ Doncaster.

Under Robert Page, an uncompromising defender in his time, Vale won’t suffer fools gladly. They won’t be shy of going direct to former Rovers loanee Uche Ikpeazu. Inside a ground that is open to the elements and lacking the sort of luxury on offer at the Keepmoat, this game probably adds up to biggest test of character so far this season.

Prior to Wednesday night’s game against Southend, all the signs are that Rovers are now a more difficult proposition to face. As a unit, they look more compact and harder to break down. As individuals, they appear to be a lot more clearer about their roles. This Saturday might just tell us more about their mentality.

They might yet have a bad day. It happens. That’s football. But if Rovers do have top six aspirations, those off days simply can’t be as frequent as last season.

Prediction: Port Vale 1 Rovers 1