Doncaster Rovers show promising early signs in win over Rossington Main

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Doncaster Rovers kicked off their 2023 pre-season campaign with a 3-1 victory over local Northern Counties East League Premier Division newcomers Rossington Main at Oxford Street.

The return of Grant McCann as manager, and a reputed seven-figure cash injection by owner Terry Bramall, has served to lift much of the gloom which had descended on the Eco-Power Stadium by the end of last season as was evidenced by the mood of the big Rovers following in the 2,000-plus crowd as the boos turned to cheers.

After a season when both wins and entertainment were hard to come by at times, visiting supporters certainly seemed to like a lot of what they saw from a squad boosted by seven summer signings.

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History, of course, tells us that Rovers fans shouldn’t read too much into pre-season results which more often than not over the years have not proved to be a good indicator of how the season will go.

George Broadbent slots home Rovers' second goal. Picture: Howard Roe/AHPIX LTDGeorge Broadbent slots home Rovers' second goal. Picture: Howard Roe/AHPIX LTD
George Broadbent slots home Rovers' second goal. Picture: Howard Roe/AHPIX LTD

Of all pre-season games the first one, in particular, generally gives little real insight into a team’s prospects with the emphasis more on building fitness rather than tactics or football skills.

That said, there were promising signs that a trip to the Eco-Power Stadium will be a more enjoyable experience during the 2023-24 League Two campaign.

Rossington were always destined to be the support act in front of what is likely to be their biggest crowd of the season. But they played their part in an entertaining encounter which didn’t suffer unduly from the many changes and can take encouragement from a spirited display.

But it was Rovers who most of the crowd came to see.

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They started the game with five of their new summer signings on view – Ian Lawlor, Richard Wood, Owen Bailey, Joe Ironside and Jack Senior.

Main stunned McCann’s men when taking an early lead through striker Ross Hannah who produced a confident finish from a knock down from a right-wing cross.

Their confidence boosted by the early goal, Main continued to pose problems for a Rovers side which took time to find its rhythm.

Ironside created the position from which Charlie Seaman won Rovers a corner with a cracking shot on goal with Tommy Rowe producing a clever near-post header from the resulting cross to level the scores.

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A feature of the first half was Rovers’ willingness to shoot at goal from outside the area with Harrison Biggins in particular catching the eye in that respect along with his athleticism, and the goalkeeper needed two attempts to deny one such effort.

Rossington full-back Matt Wilson not only showed up well in solid back four but also made several good runs down the left flank.

The home side, who could have gone behind minutes earlier had Ironside got on the end of a cross by Biggins, finished the half strongly and Hannah had a half-chance in the box.

Rovers fielded a completely different side after the break with Main making minimal changes to start the half.

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Rovers dominated the second half as the energy-sapping conditions took its toll on some of the Main side, and new signing George Broadbent put the visitors ahead after 55 minutes with a low shot.

Main made four changes ten minutes later but still found themselves trapped in their own half for long periods, and it came as no surprise when George Miller, whose cracking header had been well saved by keeper Lewis Hill less than 60 seconds earlier, made it 3-1 on 76 minutes with a neat chip.

Rossington Main: Hill, Sheppeard, Hough, Young, Wilson, Green, Harrison, Prior, Deakin, Hannah Grayson. Replacements: Budtz, Slater, Bell, Buckham, Ronis, Hunter, Sherburn, Kianga.

Rovers: Lawlor, Wood, Molyneux, Rowe, Biggins, Long, Bailey, Seaman, Ironside, Senior, Griffiths. Subs: Brown, Flint, Degruchy, Goodman.

Second half: Bottomley, Sterry, Maxwell, Olowu, Broadbent, Miller, Hurst, Westbrooke, Faulkner, Close, Kuleya.

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