Steel, flexibility and spider-saving: What we learned about Doncaster Rovers this week

Matty Blair retains his place in the Rovers side for the clash with Bradford City
Matty Blair retains his place in the Rovers side for the clash with Bradford City

Doncaster Rovers are finally back to winning ways!

And in beating Luton Town, they showed plenty of what they are made of beyond the strong attacking play they have demonstrated so far.

Here we look at a few of the week’s talking points from the club.

THE OTHER SIDE OF ROVERS

The early weeks of this season taught us that Rovers are more than capable of playing attacking, ultra-offensive and downright entertaining football.

They showed us that they can score plenty of goals before showing us there may be some work left to do in that department.

But with Saturday’s 2-1 win over a very good Luton Town outfit, Rovers showed us something new.

Second best for so much of the game, Rovers nevertheless twice found themselves ahead courtesy of goals scored early in each half.

It left them with a lead to hold onto for almost all of the second half.

Despite plenty of pressure, they never really looked like crumbling.

This was Rovers with a steely edge, a determination and a resolve. And all of that was being tested.

The test was passed and it provided an assurance greater than any 5-0 demolition could have.

We know already what Rovers are capable of in attack. Now we know what they are capable of when they are under real pressure.

MORE FLEXIBILITY THAN ADVERTISED

When Grant McCann arrived at Rovers he emphatically stated that he would not veer away from his preferred style and system.

In short, if it’s not working on any given day there will be no abandoning the plan because there is faith that it will work more often than not.

Yet McCann may not be as stubborn as he would have you believe.

Luton were getting to Rovers in their usual 4-3-3 system on Saturday so, at half time, McCann switched to a 4-4-2 with a midfield diamond, matching up the opposition.

It worked to a tee, dampening down the Luton pressure and giving Rovers real breathing space which they had lacked in the opening period.

SPEAKING OF WHICH

There was more than a little concern brought out when McCann suggested he was steadfast in his faith towards his 4-3-3 system, style of play and positivity.

If it was not working, would that commitment ultimately cost Rovers?

But the Northern Irishman has shown over the last couple of weeks that he is not nearly as naive as that statement could have suggested.

There has been criticism of players and a few hints at ultimatums which suggest McCann is prepared to turn a publicly critical eye on his squad.

And there has been talk of winning ugly if needed.

McCann is evolving as Rovers boss already and that can only be a welcome thing.

We all want the breathlessly entertaining brand of football McCann is so keen on. But it is heartening to see evidence he will do what it takes to ensure Rovers are winning football matches first and foremost.

FRIEND OF MINI-BEASTS

It turns out Matty Blair really is the nicest man in football.

Prior to Saturday's game and even before the players had come out for the warm-up, Blair walked down the tunnel, cupping something in his hands which he then released onto the pitch before heading back to the dressing room.

Intrigued, I could not resist asking him about what exactly was in his hands.

“It was a spider,” he explained at Cantley Park on Tuesday.

A nice man indeed. There can’t be many people who would go to such trouble to save a spider.

But there was more to the story. Much more.

Blair explained the spider had appeared on the wall beside his peg in the dressing room.

The man who occupies the seat beside him is Alfie May who, as Blair explained, ‘is petrified of spiders.’

So not only was the flying winger saving a wandering arachnid, he was also preventing a panic attack for his team mate.

And then his good turn was rewarded with a spectacular individual goal in the win over Luton.