Manager praises goalkeeper Sam Johnstone’s superb performance in Doncaster Rovers’ derby win over Bradford City

Sam Johnstone  made several superb saves for Rovers in the win at Bradford City
Sam Johnstone made several superb saves for Rovers in the win at Bradford City

Paul Dickov lauded praise on his match-winning goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, labelling the on-loan ace as ‘outstanding’ following their derby victory over Bradford City.

The 21-year-old, on his second loan spell from Manchester United following Jed Steer’s return to parent club Aston Villa, was in inspired form during his second debut for the club as he came in for a busy afternoon at Valley Parade.

But Johnstone - at the Keepmoat until January - stood firm as City turned the screw, keeping out a succession of chances from the hosts before seeing Doncaster snatch a 2-1 victory thanks to Curtis Main’s second half strike.

On his match-saving shot-stopper, Dickov said: “He made two fantastic saves first half. It’s not just the saves he makes, he gives the whole back four confidence.

“When you’re under pressure through free-kicks, corners, long balls into the box, he’s brave. He comes and he punches it, he comes and he catches it and that breeds a lot of confidence into the team.

“He’s mature way beyond his years. He’s a fantastic kid, he’s at a fantastic club in Manchester United but he wants to play football and that was a big factor in getting him back here. I thought he was outstanding.”

Saturday was a day to remember for Rovers chief Dickov who celebrated his 42nd birthday in style with a special triumph which helped Doncaster end a run of three winless league games as well as claim the derby bragging rights.

Rovers now sit 17th in League One - but it could have been a very different story as Bradford attacked from the off with power and pace, boasting chances through James Hanson, Jon Stead, Mark Yeates and Filipe Morais.

Doncaster’s only real first half response came via a 13th minute low drive from Richie Wellens.

The visitors were later dealt a double blow as Cedric Evina was stretchered off with a knee problem following a collision before Stead hammered in Bradford’s opener deep into first half stoppage time.

But Rovers responded well in the second half as Reece Wabara bundled in a 59th minute leveller from substitute Liam Wakefield’s whipped in cross.

City were then left stunned ten minutes later as Curtis Main thrashed in the winner at Jordan Pickford’s near-post.

Dickov added: “I thought the desire and the determination the players showed second half, was outstanding.”

The Scotsman admitted after the game that he was worried about Evina’s knee injury and told reporters that the club would be closely monitoring the left-back’s progress.