Why Doncaster Rovers should take inspiration from Bolton Wanderers and Bristol Rovers in promotion push

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Try as he might, Danny Schofield can’t help but sneak a peek at the League Two table.

Three straight wins has transformed Doncaster’s season and just six points currently separate them from Carlisle United in the final automatic promotion spot.

Bridging that gap might seem like a tall order, but Schofield’s side have now won five of their last eight matches, putting them joint top of the division’s form table for that period.

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At one point on Tuesday, with results elsewhere going their way, only goal difference was keeping Rovers out of the play-offs.

Doncaster Rovers have transformed their season with three straight wins.Doncaster Rovers have transformed their season with three straight wins.
Doncaster Rovers have transformed their season with three straight wins.

Given the close nature of the race for a top-seven spot, their negative goal difference is a problem that needs to be addressed. Three straight clean sheets is certainly progress on that front.

Games against three sides currently above them in the table in the next month is also the perfect opportunity for Doncaster to continue chasing their rivals down.

“I do have a glance at the table,” admitted Schofield, who was aware of the latest standings just minutes after the final whistle against Barrow.

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“I know it’s very tight below us and above us. I know we are two points off the play-offs, so I probably do have a look!"

Can it be done?

At this point last season Bristol Rovers – in the middle of a three-game winning streak – sat five points adrift of the League Two play-offs.

Fast forward to the final day and Joey Barton’s side secured automatic promotion in dramatic style, pipping Northampton to the final spot on goal difference after securing a twelfth win in 16 matches.

Then there was Bolton Wanderers, who won 16 games out of 22 to seal promotion in 20/21, having been as low as nineteenth at the end of January.

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“There are always going to be a couple of teams who go on a really good run. Hopefully this is just the start of it for us,” said Schofield.

"We will continue to look up, rather than down, and keep chipping away.

"We know there are some really good teams above us but we have got a lot of them to play, so it’s going to be competitive.”

Saturday’s opponents Sutton are another side still in the play-off hunt and sit just two points below Doncaster.

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They missed out on a play-off spot by just one point in their first season as a Football League side and almost beat Rovers in the return fixture back in August.

Injury-time goals from George Miller and Kieran Agard saved the home side’s blushes that day and gave them a 2-1 win.

Matt Gray’s men top the division’s form table alongside Doncaster over the last eight matches.

But another win for Schofield’s troops would represent their strongest run of form this season – and best since they won five in a row at the start of 2021 to move up to third in League One.

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"That’s the plan,” said Schofield, who is also enjoying his best run since taking over.

"They beat Swindon, so it will be a difficult game. But we are in a good vein of form and there’s a lot of belief in the lads.

"We will recover then prepare to go and compete and win the game.”