Saturday Night Takeaway: Phenomenal foundations help Doncaster Rovers remain solid for another impressive win over Oxford United

If you were predicting the basis on which Doncaster Rovers would build a promotion charge it would surely have been on their ability to pass opposition teams off the park.

Saturday, 6th February 2021, 8:40 pm
Updated Sunday, 7th February 2021, 12:40 am

But, increasingly so, the foundations of their incredible run of form has been down to an incredible defensive resolve.

Grit and determination has characterised 2021 so far for Rovers and it saw them through to another remarkable win over a rival in the battle for a place in the Championship.

Oxford United were every bit as threatening as a record of nine straight wins would have suggested. And Karl Robinson's side dominated the majority of the game as Rovers struggled once again to get their passing game going.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Fejiri Okenabirhie celebrates his goal in the win over Oxford United. Picture: Howard Roe/AHPIX

But Rovers once again stood up to the pressure to ensure they remained in front.

Real ruthlessness had put them in that position. Jon Taylor put them ahead against the run of play just after the half hour when latching onto a sublime long pass from Matt Smith, cutting inside and lashing into the bottom corner.

It failed to change the tide in the game, with Oxford still on top and the visitors deservedly levelled just before the break when Sam Long pounced on a parry from Ellery Balcombe.

With the ball simply not sticking in the opposition half, Rovers were struggling to halt Oxford's charge.

They needed improvement in the second half and they certainly got it.

Inside the first six minutes after the break they were two goals in front. First when Fejiri Okenabirhie finished well after a great one-two with Taylor Richards.

And then when Richards himself took centre stage, nutmegging one player and dancing past another before slamming in.

For the first time in the game, Rovers looked comfortable and began to pass the ball around well, ensuring the pressure from Oxford did not mount until they pulled a goal back on 70 minutes when substitute Olamide Shodapo saw a shot deflect past Balcombe.

From there, the onslaught from the opposition was inevitable and Rovers soon had their backs to the wall.

But they were in no mood to let the lead slip and defended with real bravery, particularly the central pairing of Tom Anderson and Andy Butler who were towering performers and threw themselves in front of everything that was sent their way.

They held firm for a ninth win from ten league matches and look an incredibly formidable in the promotion race.

Adding further to the positivity was the strength of the bench, featuring for the first time John Bostock, which shows that Rovers now have the sort of depth to help them through the incredibly intense period to come.

Scott Robertson made his debut off the bench and fit in seamlessly with neat and tidy play on the ball and a combative streak.

The signs that Rovers can continue their form through the second half of the season, which will be played out over three demanding months, are incredibly promising.

If they can come through their last two matches with victories, they can handle anything


In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.