ANALYSIS & HIGHLIGHTS: Doncaster Rovers 2 Colchester United 0 - Rovers get the job done and slightly more

Conor Grant, celebrates after scoring the opening goal of the match, alongside James Coppinger.
Conor Grant, celebrates after scoring the opening goal of the match, alongside James Coppinger.

After shipping six goals without reply against Peterborough and Millwall, it mattered not how Doncaster Rovers won Darren Ferguson’s first home game in charge.

Just that they won it.

But in doing precisely that, Rovers also provided a glimpse of what the future could hold under their new boss.

With his father Sir Alex a guest at the Keepmoat Stadium, Ferguson junior made his mark before a ball was kicked by displaying the kind of ruthlessness that clearly runs in the family, dropping playmaker Richie Wellens in favour of young Harry Middleton in the midfield holding role.

Teenager Mitchell Lund was also entrusted with the right-sided centre back responsibilities as Ferguson kept faith with the three at the back system that he has employed since half time at London Road.

His decision to throw in new loan recruit Conor Grant and recall striker Andy Williams paid dividends too, as the pair scored either side of the break to secure a much-needed win and lift Rovers out of the bottom four.

Conor Grant scores the opening goal

Conor Grant scores the opening goal

Saturday’s win was more about the players digging in than any tactical mastery from Ferguson.

A gem of a goal from Grant, towards the end of a first half that had seen Colchester register more attempts on goal, also proved to be crucial in swinging the pendulum Rovers’ way.

But there were also some signs that Ferguson’s style, beliefs and ideas are starting to rub off on Doncaster’s players, particularly during a second half display which suggested that Rovers’ damaged confidence levels could be slowly on the mend.

Ferguson’s side, very deliberately, was packed full of young players with pace and athleticism. The spine of the team boasted a smattering of experience for good measure.

Andy Williams slots the ball past Colchester's keeper Jamie Jones to double his sides lead

Andy Williams slots the ball past Colchester's keeper Jamie Jones to double his sides lead

With Lund and Aaron Taylor-Sinclair either side of Andy Butler, Cedric Evina and Cameron Stewart employed as wing backs, and Middleton and Grant alongside James Coppinger in midfield, there was a youthful exuberance about Doncaster and their play.

In a scrappy first half, that youthfulness might have contributed to a performance that lacked composure on the ball.

But what Rovers lacked in quality they more than made up for in terms of energy and enthusiasm on their way to just a fourth league win this season.

As Ferguson quite rightly said at the end of the game, his team has plenty of room for improvement.

Doncaster's Nathan Tyson battles with Colchester's George Elekobi

Doncaster's Nathan Tyson battles with Colchester's George Elekobi

But the vitality that they displayed, on the back of two confidence-sapping defeats, provides tentative cause for optimism ahead of some very winnable games in November.

There was a freedom and freshness about Rovers, and it resulted in a much more enjoyable experience for a Keepmoat crowd who have been starved of entertainment for too long.

While youth very much came to the forefront, it was two of Doncaster’s more elder statesman who stood out during a scrappy first period that Colchester edged.

With chances for the home team thin on the ground, Nathan Tyson’s pace and willingness to chase lost causes gave United’s defence at least something to think about.

Tyson missed the first clear opening of the game. Slotted through in lovely fashion by the advancing Taylor-Sinclair, his shot was blocked by the onrushing Jamie Jones in the visitors’ goal.

The first half then became the Stuckmann show. The big German’s form has dipped from the standards he set early in the season but he was back to his best to keep a clean sheet for the first time in two months.

He was tested twice by George Moncur, first with a curling effort and then from point-blank range after some hesitant Rovers defending.

Winger Callum Harriott, United’s biggest threat, also brought another save out of Stuckmann from distance.

Chances were drying up at both ends as half time approached but Rovers went ahead thanks to a moment of brilliance from Grant. The midfielder picked up possession just outside the area, moved the ball onto his favoured left foot and curled home a sublime effort.

Rovers were not about to sit back on their lead and started the second half in positive fashion. Tyson’s low shot was easily saved by Jones, while Coppinger might have done better after being sent clear by Stewart.

There was a scare for Rovers when Butler sliced a Harriott cross just over.

But within seconds Doncaster doubled their lead from a quick counter, Coppinger leading the charge and squaring for Williams to coolly slot home.

To their credit, Colchester refused to lie down and Stuckmann made a brilliant save to keep out Darren Ambrose’s header.

Substitute Curtis Main missed a good chance towards the end but 3-0 might have flattered Rovers somewhat.

Rovers: Stuckmann 9, Lund 7, Butler 7, Taylor-Sinclair 7, Evina 6 (Keegan 80), Middleton 8, Grant 7, Coppinger 7, Stewart 6 (McCullough 68), Tyson 8, Williams 7 (Main 73). Subs not used: Marosi, Forrester, Wellens, Mandeville.

Colchester: Jones 6, Olufemi 6, Elokobi 6 (Kent 64), Eastman 6, Briggs 6, Gilbey 6, Garvan 6, Harriott 7, Moncur 6, Ambrose 6 (Bonne 72), Sordell 6. Subs not used: Edwards, Lapslie, Sembie-Ferris, Curtis, Parish.

Attendance: 5,324