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Grant McCann’s Doncaster Rovers team is the one we all expected from Darren Ferguson - Paul Goodwin’s match verdict

Andy Butler impressed at the heart of the Doncaster defence.
Andy Butler impressed at the heart of the Doncaster defence.

Grant McCann is forging the sort of Doncaster Rovers side that was expected from his predecessor Darren Ferguson.

The former Northern Ireland international has well and truly released the shackles and his brand of no-fear, attacking football is making people sit up and take notice of what is happening at the Keepmoat Stadium.

John Marquis scored twice to make it five goals in his last five games.

John Marquis scored twice to make it five goals in his last five games.

Rovers secured a third straight win and extended their unbeaten run in League One to six matches - moving up to fourth in the early standings - with a hard earned 2-1 win over Bradford City which rather neatly summed up McCann’s mantra.

For starters there was some swashbuckling, stylish play, culminating in a superb finish from John Marquis for the opener and even better team goal for the second, a sweeping counter attack finished off by that man Marquis for his fifth goal in five games.

At times Rovers played with a swagger. There were shades of the Sean O’Driscoll wonder years.

There was a doggedness and willingness to do the ugly things too, and it was much-needed against a bright Bantams outfit who belied their lowly status in the table.

There was a willingness to take risks going forward, a willingness to put bodies on the line defensively, and again a willingness to take one for the team if required – all of which have become hallmarks of Doncaster’s encouraging start to the season.

It wasn’t all plain sailing against David Hopkin’s team.

George Miller’s 81st minute goal, which ultimately proved scant reward for Bradford’s spirited showing, set up a nervy climax when Rovers could and arguably should have been out of sight.

But McCann’s attack-minded approach will tend to keep opposing teams interested. His commitment to sending bodies forward will always leave Rovers slightly susceptible at the other end.

That’s just the manager’s way. So far it’s working.

Ferguson’s work at Rovers, in particular his recruitment of the likes of Marquis, Ben Whiteman, Joe Wright and Niall Mason, should not be bad-mouthed.

He departed having made Rovers a harder team to beat at this level and laid some solid foundations at the Keepmoat following the club’s post-Championship wobbles.

But the Scot never really managed to get Rovers playing with the sort of attacking panache he was once famed for at Peterborough United, at least in League One anyhow. They ripped up League Two but the club should never have sunk to that level.

Under McCann, Doncaster are playing with width, flair, conviction and freedom - qualities they often lacked in Ferguson’s somewhat rigid system.

Can they sustain it? That is the question.

WHEN YOUR LUCK’S IN

You make your own luck.

And such was Rovers’ tenacity and endeavour that they earned a big slice of fortune to continue their winning sequence.

Moments after the re-start, with the home side leading 1-0, Joe Wright clumsily bundled over Eoin Doyle in the box. It looked a clear penalty, yet referee Martin Coy wasn’t interested.

Had the visitors levelled at that point it could have been a very different game.

But just minutes later Rovers produced a quite brilliant counter attack which ended in Marquis sweeping home the decisive second.

Doyle also hit the inside of the post before Miller halved the deficit. The Bantams also had their moments in front of goal during an open first half.

On this evidence when it finally drops for Bradford they have more than enough quality to move themselves away from danger.

Doncaster got slightly lucky. But you make your own luck.

ATTACK BEST FORM OF DEFENCE

There were times during this game that Rovers left themselves very open.

That’s the McCann way.

Yet despite their attacking tendencies Rovers have the the joint third best defensive record in the division having conceded just seven goals in their opening nine league games.

That is testament to how well the team is performing, particularly the defensive unit.

Marko Marosi will have been disappointed at the way he allowed Miller past him en route to tapping home City’s late goal.

But the Slovakian goalkeeper is arguably the most improved player on Doncaster’s books and has more than proved his worth this season.

Andy Butler was also rock at the heart of the defence with a display reminiscent of Rob Jones, the man who last led this club to promotion from League One.