Desire for goals, newly clean sheets and super Smith - Talking points from Doncaster Rovers' win over AFC Wimbledon

Doncaster Rovers continued their superb momentum with a seventh win in eight as they beat tenacious AFC Wimbledon.

Wednesday, 27th January 2021, 12:00 pm

Goals from Fejiri Okenabirhie and Taylor Richards helped see Rovers through to the win.

Here, we look at some of the big talking points from the game.

KEEPING THE DOOR SHUT

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Brad Halliday fires on goal against AFC Wimbledon. Picture: Howard Roe/AHPIX

Rovers have looked particularly strong defensively since the turn of the year - the West Ham game apart. And a continuation of that saw them secure back-to-back clean sheets for the first time this season by shutting out Wimbledon.

Defensive solidity has been a characteristic of Rovers all season but it is fair to say they have not had nearly the number of clean sheets they should have, particularly from games where they have been largely comfortable.

Mistakes have played a major role in that but they appear to be on the decrease as concentration and resolve increases.

Barring a calamitous moment where the ball ricocheted off the post and Tom Anderson bundled it over the bar, Rovers did not look like shooting themselves in the foot.

Taylor Richards celebrates his goal against AFC Wimbledon. Picture: Howard Roe/AHPIX

With a tough run to come, the increased confidence in the defensive effort should stand Rovers in good stead.

DESIRE DELIVERS

It was clear from the start that there was a tangible determination to put Wimbledon on the back foot and keep them there.

And there were more than a few players who were equally determined to get on the scoresheet.

Matt Smith tangles with Wimbledon's Jack Rudoni. Picture: Andrew Roe/AHPIX

Brad Halliday in particular clearly fancied a goal for himself and was unlucky not to grab one, particularly when he smashed a shot off the bar from distance.

An aggressive and determined Halliday is a major plus point for Rovers as he drives forward and helps set the tone for the approach to breaking down the opposition.

The likes of Taylor Richards and Elliot Simoes too were determined to net on the night, with the former unfortunate not to add to his goal.

In a side where a pacy and dynamic attack is so key, such confidence and determination is an incredibly positive sign.

SUPER SMITH

There was a reason Darren Moore suggested he would look within in order to source a replacement for Ben Whiteman.

In Manchester City loanee Matt Smith, he has a ready made option who ticks a lot of the boxes for what Whiteman brought to the side.

And with the former skipper now departed, dare we say that Smith has had the chance to come to the fore.

His workrate is excellent, constantly buzzing around in the deep midfield role to receive the ball out from the back, disrupt the opposition and get Rovers on the front foot.

His overall passing range might not yet be quite at the same levels as Whiteman but he is excellent at the ‘simple stuff’ which is so vital in the middle of the park.

And he showed with his gif-worthy first time raking ball out to the flanks exactly what he is capable of.

Smith is rapidly becoming one of the most important players in the side.

NO STUMBLE

The performance was the perfect demonstration that Rovers were not knocked off their stride by the manner of the defeat at West Ham in the cup.

The momentum in the group is impressive - and timely given a trip to a promotion rival is coming up.

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In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.