Doncaster Rovers: The opening day ‘turning point’ at Southend United that set the tone for this season

Half time during the first game of the season may seem a bit early for a turning point in a campaign but that 15 minute period was crucial for Doncaster Rovers according to boss Grant McCann.

Rovers somehow entered the break at Southend United with the score still goalless, despite being overwhelmed and outplayed by the rampant hosts.

Grant McCann

Grant McCann

McCann’s first proper half time team talk as Rovers boss proved inspired, as his side went on to roar into a three goal lead before being pegged back to 3-2 late on in a barnstorming opening day fixture.

He reflected on that day as Rovers prepare to welcome Southend to the Keepmoat on Tuesday night for the reverse fixture.

And he says his side – who can open up a four point cushion inside the top six with a win – have rarely looked back since.

“I think things changed at half time,” he said.

“There were a few home truths from me and Cliff [Byrne, assistant] to the whole group.

“We'd worked all pre-season on how we wanted to play and I think we got to Southend in that first half and just didn't do it.

“It was as simple as that.

“We didn't do what we'd worked on. We played our own game a little bit and at half time I was quite blunt with a few.

“I think since then the belief in the group has grown game by game and we're playing with a lot of confidence and a lot of energy about us.

“And there is a belief we can win games when we perform.”

McCann says the performance of Chris Powell’s Southend side that day means his players are well aware of the threats they could pose on Tuesday.

He said: “We are coming up against a Southend side that are dangerous.

“They went to Charlton and drew with ten men. Went to Bradford and won 4-0.

“They've picked up some really good wins away from home.

“We're under no illusions how tough it's going to be.

“The first game of the season they should - and this is no exaggeration - have been six or seven up in the first half.

“We know how dangerous they are.”