Doncaster Rovers: Ferguson keen to see side get back to winning ways whatever the competition

Alfie Beestin will start for Rovers tonight
Alfie Beestin will start for Rovers tonight

Darren Ferguson has admitted tonight’s Checkatrade Trophy tie has taken on new significance following the recent winless run for Doncaster Rovers.

Ferguson’s side welcome Port Vale as favourites to win their group and secure a home tie in the first knockout stage.

As he did in Saturday’s largely poor showing in the FA Cup clash with Oldham Athletic, Ferguson will take the opportunity to rest some of his first choice players tonight.

But he said a strong performance is vital from whatever side he fields against the League One outfit, particularly defensively.

“It’s three games without a win.” Ferguson said.

“No one is panicking of course but it would be nice to get another win in this competition and qualify.

“We want to get back to winning ways and we want to stop this problem – which is hopefully a small problem – of conceding too many goals.

“The first goal we conceded on Saturday was so cheap it was unbelievable.”

Following Saturday’s FA Cup exit, the Checkatrade Trophy is now Rovers’ only remaining knockout competition

And Ferguson is keen to keep that alive beyond tonight.

He said: “If you go out of the cups, it puts a lot of pressure on the league.

“We do want to do well in the league – that’s a gimmie.

“But we wanted to do well in the cups.”

All four teams in the Northern Group E can still advance heading into the final game but a draw against Vale will be enough for Rovers to qualify for the knockout stage.

The much-maligned competition has proven to be a largely positive experience for Rovers with younger players such as Liam Mandeville and Alfie Beestin flourishing after being handed opportunities.

Both are set to start again for Rovers tonight – as they did on Saturday at Boundary Park – with Ferguson keen to continue resting players.

He said: “I felt it was the right decision to make changes at the weekend because I can’t keep playing the same players every week.”