That’s for you Bongs! Rovers dedicate vital win to injured defender

David Cotterill celebrates his goal with Billy Sharp. Picture: Steve Uttley.
David Cotterill celebrates his goal with Billy Sharp. Picture: Steve Uttley.

A delighted Paul Dickov dedicated his side’s vital 2-0 victory over Huddersfield Town to long-term injury victim Bongani Khumalo.

The South African centre-back was in a hospital bed back in his homeland during Rovers’ victory over Yorkshire rivals Town after the 27-year-old underwent surgery on a ruptured knee tendon.

Doncaster Rovers v Barnsley.'Barnsley's Nick Proschwitz battles with Doncaster's Bongani Khumalo.'15th February 2014. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Doncaster Rovers v Barnsley.'Barnsley's Nick Proschwitz battles with Doncaster's Bongani Khumalo.'15th February 2014. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe.

That injury, sustained in the 5-0 friendly Brazil defeat for his home nation in midweek, has ruled out the Tottenham Hotspur defender for the remainder of Rovers’ crucial Championship run-in.

He is also likely to miss a large part of next season.

“I spoke to Bongs last night [Friday],” Dickov said in his post-match press conference.

“It was the last thing I said to the players - Bongs wishes you all the best so go out there and get a result for the poor lad who’s laid up in a hospital bed.

“All the players dedicated that result to him because he’s been fantastic for us this season.”

In Khumalo’s absence, Gabriel Tamas partnered Abdoulaye Meite in the heart of Doncaster’s defence as Paul Quinn returned to a side which confidently dispatched Mark Robins’ Terriers with goals from Billy Sharp and David Cotterill.

And Dickov, who was keen for a reaction from his players following the dismal display against Bournemouth last weekend, was more than happy with his players’ performance - labelling man of the match Chris Brown as ‘unplayable’.

“He [Brown] was up against a strong, strong defence,” said the Scotsman.

“He gave us a real platform to go and play the way we did.”

He went on: “I thought Tamas was outstanding. They had played together for West Brom [Tamas and Meite] a few years ago as a central defensive partnership, when they got promoted and that showed in our performance.”

Striker Sharp, returning from a three-game ban following a red card in the Brighton defeat, set Doncaster on their way as he guided a Tamas header past Alex Smithies in the 28th minute.

A double-save from Sam Johnstone later denied Town duo Paul Dixon and Nahki Wells before Cotterill bagged Rovers’ second in the 55th minute.

Cotterill marked his first start since January 1 with a delicate finish into the bottom corner.

With James Coppinger out because his wife was in labour, Dickov admitted he was always going to start Cotterill.

“He was absolutely outstanding. You talk about players having the right attitude when they’re not in the team, Cotts has been champing at the bit for a while now,” said the Rovers chief. “I thought both our wide players, without the ball, were absolutely outstanding. Cotts has waited patiently, he is the ultimate professional.”

Picking up vital points and continuing to keep their unbeaten home run in the league going since Boxing Day, Dickov was under no illusion just how valuable Saturday’s solid performance was: “It’s nice to get the three points as a team defensively. The clean sheet is massive,” he added.