Tom Biltcliffe: Doncaster Rovers must believe in themselves at Barnsley

The results section on a Sunday morning is the only statistic ever worth acknowledging.

Friday, 23rd November 2018, 8:26 am
Updated Friday, 23rd November 2018, 8:34 am
Herbie Kane celebrates his goal against Chorley
Herbie Kane celebrates his goal against Chorley

Nobody connected to the Keepmoat Stadium will care a jot that Doncaster Rovers this week had to force their way from a goal down against AFC Wimbledon for their first league win in four games or the fact it took a first round replay to overcome non-league Chorley in the FA Cup.

Yet those wins perfectly set up what will be a telling week to Rovers' true play-off credentials, starting with a trip to local rivals Barnsley.

The Tykes will be hopeful of an immediate return to the Championship and the longer they remain unbeaten at Oakwell, the greater those prospects.

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However, Rovers can upset the apple cart against Daniel Stendel's team who, save for Luton, haven't hosted anyone of note.

So, how can Grant McCann's men overcome their neighbours and reignite their stop-start campaign? Believe!

I think Rovers have suffered from, collectively, lacking the courage of their convictions.

Defending set pieces is an obvious Achilles heel which has taken time to rectify, while chances have all too often gone begging at the other end of the pitch.

That is not the recipe for success.

Having said that, there's some big characters among the Doncaster ranks so it was a surprise to see Accrington, Fleetwood, Sunderland and Charlton all dispense of Rovers without concession within a month.

I like McCann. He is brave and bold, giving some players a new lease of life and has spectators' chins wagging.

There is a but, though.

And that is the fact that, with less than three seasons of management under his belt, forecasting '˜promotion parties' could be seen as naïve.

If comments like that one after a 3-3 draw with Gillingham was meant to breathe confidence in to what is a transitional team, then it arguably heaped the pressure on a side the majority of which were in League Two 18 months ago.

Darren Ferguson brought Rovers back to the third tier and, last season, achieved the objectives of consolidation and a cup run but could not bring about a long overdue derby win.

It was Rob Jones who was in charge at Doncaster when Rovers last beat Barnsley in October 2015, thanks to that last minute winner from Richard Chaplow.

Ferguson's successor McCann is well on the way to delivering the first of those two aims, consolidation.

With the return of the talismanic skipper Tommy Rowe, his chances of achieving the third - those elusive local bragging rights - are hopefully significantly boosted.

*Tom Biltcliffe can be heard on BBC Radio Sheffield commentating on Doncaster Rovers and the region's other teams.

Follow Tom on Twitter: @tombiltcliffe