The Takeaway: Gaffer's performance sets the tone as Doncaster Rovers get back on the win trail at Shrewsbury Town

Was the solution for Doncaster Rovers staring Andy Butler in the face all along?

Saturday, 17th April 2021, 4:43 pm

It would be too simple to suggest that the temporary switch from Gaffer back to Butts was the driving force behind Rovers’ return to winning ways.

But it certainly helped.

While the recent run of results have raised justifiable questions about his present suitability to guide Rovers from the sidelines, there has never been any doubts over his leadership on the pitch.

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Taylor Richards was excellent for Rovers against Shrewsbury Town
Taylor Richards was excellent for Rovers against Shrewsbury Town

And despite having trained with the squad on Thursday for the first time since he took on the manager’s job, he showed exactly why.

Calm, composed, commanding and wily, his presence helped settle a side that has looked anything but over a torrid six week period.

Alongside skipper Tom Anderson he guided and marshalled his players through an energy-sapping afternoon on a surprisingly hot day in Shropshire.

He was as commanding in the air as ever, made sensible decisions in the right areas of the pitch and handled a lively Shrews front line.

The smile on his face at full time showed exactly what a first win in ten meant to Butler. And it was a smile replicated by his players.

Like their gaffer, they had put in a tremendous shift and, for the first time in far too long, came away from the game having turned in a pleasing performance collectively.

It was not perfect. There was a degree of sloppiness that could easily have been punished on another day.

But the most pleasing aspect of it all was the confidence with which Rovers played.

There was an attack-mindedness from the start, a desire to get forward and put in the hard running in advanced positions which was absent from too many recent outings.

Fejiri Okenabirhie was back to the bustling lone forward that causes opposition defences problems and pounces on mistakes - as he did in the build-up to both goals.

His own, after 15 minutes, came from a striker who no longer had the weight of the world on his shoulders. He reacted to a slack pass from the hosts, raced clear and slammed a confident finish into the far corner.

Arguably the biggest transformation came from Taylor Richards, who was much more like the aggressive, one-track minded attacking midfielder that made him a standout before the turn of the year.

He stole the ball away from feet time after time and powered forward, bringing others into play and putting the opposition on the back foot.

It was one of those performances where, in isolation, you would never believe there was ever any criticism of his workrate.

And it deserved to be capped with a goal, as it was on 81 minutes. Okenabirhie again pounced on a short pass to poke the ball through for Richards who then slammed into the roof of the net from just inside the box.

Butler’s summation after the game was on the nose. ‘That’s more like it.’

In the result but more so in the performance.

Five points off the play-offs with a game in hand you say?

The winning feeling is back at Doncaster Rovers And where can it take them from here?

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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.