Paul Goodwin’s Rovers Verdict: The goalposts have moved

Chris Brown in action at Walsall. Picture: Steve Uttley
Chris Brown in action at Walsall. Picture: Steve Uttley

There could hardly have been a more symbolic way to launch Rovers’ season.

It was just like watching the Doncaster Rovers of recent years at Walsall - but I’m not talking about Dean Saunders’ very different Doncaster.

The Saddlers, with Richard O’Kelly’s influence all-too-easy to spot, had more possession, more corners and more shots.

They also ended up with no points as a robust Rovers outfit strolled into the Banks’s Stadium and flexed their League One muscles.

This time the boot was on the other foot.

With Saunders’ preference for substance over style, the goalposts have officially moved.

So often the kings of possession but left unrewarded for their style and sophistication, Doncaster dished out the sort of treatment that they so commonly received during the Championship years.

As Walsall huffed and puffed, it was a complete role reversal from recent seasons.

Rovers had made their mark on the third tier and seemed to relish the physical undertone to their play.

There was more to Doncaster than sheer brute force as David Cotterill, Kyle Bennett and impressive strike pair Chris Brown and Billy Paynter exploited the extra space and time afforded them.

But the determined display suggests Saunders’ men have fully bought into the manager’s very different philosophy to his popular predecessor.

Rovers’ newfound doggedness was there for everyone to see on Tuesday night too as they dug deep to defeat plucky Bury.

This is very much a new Doncaster Rovers.

So often unlucky losers in the past, Rovers have started the season with the swagger of a side that believes it can beat anyone at this level.

They certainly have the quality within their tight-knit ranks to have a good season. Now the perfect start has given them the belief too.

Crawley represent the toughest test yet for Rovers but I expect the bandwagon to roll on.

Rovers 2 Crawley 1

Rovers 1 Hull City 2