Doncaster Rovers: What we learned this week – including goals, character, Whiteman and togetherness

Ben Whiteman
Ben Whiteman

In terms of away day wins, it does not get much better than what Rovers delivered on Saturday.

Sweeping aside a club that had yet to suffer defeat, scoring four goals against a side who had conceded no more than one in each of their games, ending a seven game losing streak against that team.

As Saturday’s go, the trip to the Banks’ Stadium wasn’t half bad.

Here we take a look at what we learned about Rovers this week.

FROM STEEL TO COMPOSURE

Last week all the talk was of the impressive levels of resolve Rovers showed in their victory over Luton Town.

This week it is all about the cool heads they demonstrated in a powder keg of an atmosphere at Walsall.

Home supporters at the Banks’ Stadium were angry – seriously angry – at what they perceived to be poor officiating from referee Antony Coggins.

And a lot of their very vocal frustration was directed to Rovers’ players.

That only succeeded in riling the Walsall players up and led to a particularly ill-tempered and fiery affair.

Yet, Rovers showed superb composure to deal with the atmosphere and the physical attention of the opposition.

Dare we say that they enjoyed it and did various things to encourage more of it?

It is clear that Mallik Wilks is one player who thrives on such negative attention from opposition supporters. He relishes it and, as we saw on Saturday, it helps brings the best out of him.

John Marquis is cut from a very similar cloth so it begs the question, are they the worst forward partnership in the division to try to rile up?

WHO WOULD DARE QUESTION THE GOALS SUPPLY?

That question over the scoring of goals that you were worried about?

The shooting boots are back after the ruthless demolition of previously unbeaten Walsall at the weekend.

A superbly taken penalty from John Marquis was followed by three goals of the highest quality from Mallik Wilks, James Coppinger and Matty Blair.

Excellent finishing was back on display to show things really are coming together for Grant McCann’s side.

It is a fact that if Rovers score more than one goal, they win.

That shows the defensive side of the squad are holding up their side of the bargain.

As long as the goals keep flowing, that ‘something special’ Coppinger referenced after the game could be a real possibility.

WHITEMAN IS THE RIGHT MAN

I will confess that I was initially not entirely confident that Ben Whiteman was the right choice for the more defensive minded role of McCann’s midfield three.

An attack minded player with a rocket of a shot being asked to sit and dictate play? I was certainly not sure.

But there can be no more doubts over his suitability and the fact McCann spotted something straight away in the 24-year-old.

He dominated Saturday’s game against Walsall in both aspects of the game.

Breaking up play superbly, he is an excellent protector for what can often be an exposed defensive line.

But he also finds time to show his attacking attributes also, whether that be driving forward with the ball or playing pinpoint passes.

His ball through for Wilks’ goal on Saturday was simply stunning and created the ideal opportunity for the on-loan Leeds United defender to feed off.

Should Whiteman carry on like this, it certainly shows Rovers were right to spend the money they did on securing his services in January.

INCREDIBLE TOGETHERNESS

The close bond in the squad was the main thing Coppinger wanted to address after Saturday’s win.

Rightly stating it had been built up over the last few years, Coppinger also suggested it could be the thing that drives Rovers to achieving something special this season.

Regardless of results on the pitch, that togetherness was reflected superbly in the collective decision of the squad to attend the funeral of well-known supporter Jake ‘Pieman' Power on Friday.

Not done for PR purposes or to gain any sort of credibility, it was an incredible gesture to demonstrate that the players and club as a whole appreciate the connection with supporters as much as fans feel the bond.

Rovers are a club constantly providing examples of caring for their fanbase above all else. It shouldn’t really be forgotten.