New boys shine, Magic Madger and other talking points from Doncaster Rovers' dominant win at Tranmere Rovers
Doncaster Rovers ran riot in a devastating second half to sweep aside struggling Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park.
Jacob Ramey starred on his debut with two goals while fellow new signing Fejiri Okenabirhie came off the bench to wrap up the 3-0 win.
Here, we look at the major talking points from the excellent night on the Wirrall.
A DEBUT TO REMEMBER
Darren Moore suggested that Jacob Ramsey was a special talent. And on first viewing, the Rovers boss does not look a bad judge. It was a sensational debut for the 18-year-old who had previously had only 43 minutes experience of senior football. He looked incredibly comfortable on the ball, receiving passes in advanced areas, driving forward and - as his two goals showed - getting into some excellent positions. He showed tremendous resolve to shake off the disappointment of missing a sitter in the first half to score two goals of real quality and help keep Rovers on the front foot throughout a dominant second half. On that showing, he will be hard to shake out of the side.
Arguably the major fatal flaw that Tranmere were guilty of was allowing Ben Whiteman so much space in the middle of the park. The Rovers skipper dominated the game, spraying passes around the pitch with glee to help his side tear the opposition apart in the second half in particular. It was the type of performance that shows exactly why Whiteman holds the status as one of, if not the, best midfielder in the division. It is baffling that there were not clubs banging on Rovers’ door all January holding blank cheques.
It would be easy to go through and praise the entire side but Madger Gomes certainly deserves singling out for another excellent performance. Lining up in a midfield four and against an opposition that afforded plenty of space, he had much more freedom than he has in other roles and he took advantage. He was very, very good on the ball and pushed forward well. He also did his fair share of tracking back and cutting out. It has been a big call from Moore to stick in Gomes ahead of James Coppinger, but the Spanish midfielder is repaying the faith.
It might have been other new boys that stole the limelight but Devante Cole played his part too. A lone striker up against a back three, he demonstrated the sort of physical presence Rovers have been lacking for so much of the campaign. Combative and strong, he shook off close attention time and again to take Rovers into advanced areas. His performance deserved a goal and he perhaps should have had one as he rose to head on goal - again showing qualities that have been largely absent from the Rovers squad.
Tranmere may be a team drowning in a desperate struggle against the drop but this was not a game that Rovers simply had to turn up to win. The Prenton Park pitch - a combination of mountainous mud and pits of sand - certainly saw to that. But Rovers dealt with the conditions with excellent professionalism and real smarts on the pitch. It was an excellent performance to show why Rovers should definitely be taken seriously in the race for the play-offs.
The big question for Darren Moore was how to fit all his new faces in with those that have performed so well for Rovers this season. A system switch was certainly an option and he delivered that on Tuesday night as he went with a 4-1-4-1 formation. It gave Rovers plenty of options going forward along with real width. Kieran Sadlier benefitted from a switch to the right where he looked much more creative and Niall Ennis settled on the left too. But it mainly helped Rovers dominate midfield, with Whiteman at the base and Gomes and Ramsey making a technically superb triangle.