The Takeaway: Even in victory, the size of the task ahead this summer is emphasised by Doncaster Rovers' triumph over Rochdale

The note on which this campaign will ultimately be remembered for Doncaster Rovers has finally been rubber-stamped.

Saturday, 1st May 2021, 7:49 pm

Granted, no one watched them head off to Rochdale with anything other than a sober acknowledgement their season had ended a few weeks ago.

But there was still a pang of sadness, and a tidal wave of bitter disappointment, that last of the long dying embers of top six hopes were extinguished.

A 2-1 triumph over Rochdale was not enough to ensure Rovers still had something truly tangible to play for in their final two matches. Truthfully, it would have taken the most unimaginably miraculous turn of events for it to be any different.

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Jason Lokilo harries Jimmy Keohane of Rochdale

What the result did succeed in was providing a small element of positivity - even if it is likely to be lost in the mix of all the questions about Rovers’ sorry decline.

As they found with Tuesday’s very impressive draw at Peterborough United, feelings of satisfaction quickly gave way to those of frustration that they had failed to perform to such levels on a consistent basis over the last three months.

And at Spotland, there were the same thoughts of what might have been.

Rovers again looked more like their old selves - this time with a demonstration of real threat on the counter attack throughout.

On another day - perhaps one earlier in the season - they could have dished out a real thumping to a side as open as Rochdale.

But even on this one they were worthy of their victory, delivered with a pair of goals from a rejuvenated Taylor Richards.

A strike from Matty Done ensured Rochdale would pile on the pressure late in the game as they hunted for the point they needed to keep their survival hopes alive.

Rovers however stood firm to secure a fairly pleasing triumph.

Trying to look to the future on a positive note, there is the gathering momentum they are generating which suggests they can enter the summer on an upward trajectory.

And there was another excellent performance from Louis Jones which demonstrated how ready, willing and able he is to take the number one shirt next season.

But among the other positives was also a realisation of how much the new gaffer will have to do once he takes the reins the week after next.

The dynamic front four were a major threat each time they broke from half way.

But half the quartet - Richards and Tyreece John-Jules - will definitely not be on Rovers’ books next season. And another quarter, Jason Lokilo, is still in the dark over his future.

Lokilo again stood out as a mini-renaissance man with another performance packed with attacking threat. Whether he has done enough in the last two games to convince the club he is worthy of a new deal is another matter.

Even of the men that arrived off the bench into the front four - James Coppinger, Josh Sims and Omar Bogle - only the latter is contracted beyond the end of the campaign.

The great reset button will be pressed at Rovers this summer and there will be plenty of work required to get them ready and competitive for the next campaign.

The new manager will know all too well.

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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. Liam Hoden, editor.