Analysis: Five things Doncaster Rovers need to do to win promotion

Rovers in pre-season action
Rovers in pre-season action

Doncaster Rovers have set their stall out to win promotion from League Two at the first time of asking.

But after two relegations in the last three seasons, it is unlikely to be plain sailing.

Sports writer Paul Goodwin looks at five things Rovers need to do if they are to achieve their aim.

1. Be more clinical in both boxes

Only Blackpool, Crewe and Oldham Athletic scored fewer goals than Rovers (48) in League One last season.

So it does not take a genius to work out that they will have to improve considerably in front of goal.

They can’t afford to become over-reliant on Andy Williams either.

Defensively, Darren Ferguson’s side were far too gullible when it came to defending crosses and too easy to get at from wide areas.

Rovers were often at their most vulnerable when they were attacking too, leaving themselves wide open for opposing teams to break on them quickly.

With teams at this level likely to be more direct, and also operate on the counter attack at the Keepmoat, Rovers must batten down the hatches.

2. Start and finish games better

Last season’s stats are horrifying, not least the excruciating 17-game sequence without a win.

But within that Rovers showed an incredible knack of going behind in games. In no fewer than 14 of those 17 they shipped the first goal.

Rovers simply have to start games better, impose themselves more on the opposition and get their heads in front more often.

They also switched off at the back end of games far too much.

Late lapses cost them so dearly in crucial games against Peterborough, Blackpool, Rochdale and Bury.

Concentration clearly needs to be better, as does game management.

3. Re-discover a winning mentality

Just 38 wins out of the last 138 league games speaks volumes.

Arresting that downward spiral, shaking Rovers out of the doldrums and fostering a winning mentality within the dressing room will arguably be Darren Ferguson’s toughest task.

4. Learn to win ugly and react better to adversity

Are Rovers still too nice a team to play against? Time will tell.

They need to be more cut throat, streetwise and also physically stronger to prosper in League Two.

And if the going gets tough, like it did last season, there can be no hiding place this time.

5. Make the Keepmoat Stadium into a fortress

Get ready for teams to park the bus at the Keepmoat.

Rovers have struggled to unlock deep-lying defences in recent times. They’ll need to come up with a lot more answers if they are to achieve their goal.