Doncaster Rovers: Unwanted records gone ... Cheltenham 0 Rovers 1
Two undesirable records were ended in one swift motion as Rovers deservedly picked up their second win of the season.
Victory at Cheltenham Town saw Rovers secure back-to-back wins for the first time in eight months, the same sorry length of time since their last away triumph.
Add to that earning consecutive clean sheets for the first time since last November and ending an 11-month unbeaten home record in the league for Cheltenham.
The stats make pleasant reading for an evolving Rovers side beginning to show more than mere glimpses of what they are capable of offering.
Dominant for much of the first half without truly threatening Robins keeper Russell Griffiths, they finally broke the deadlock eight minutes into the second half when John Marquis swept home after being played into space by James Coppinger.
It was a goal both men deserved to play a part in after respective excellent performances which saw them be constant nuisances to the hosts with a mixture of relentless running and smart passing.
TWO PLEASING FACETS OF TEAM
While the victory and clean sheet are the headline achievements of Rovers’ trip to Gloucestershire, the overall performance was the most pleasing, particularly heading into the meat of a long season.
In the two halves at Whaddon Road, Rovers showed two sides of what they are capable of and both will prove incredibly valuable as they search for promotion.
From the first whistle they pressed with superb intensity from front to back. It forced numerous errors from the Cheltenham defence and helped Rovers start attacks high up the pitch.
The midfield four moved possession quickly and got the ball into the feet of the strikers, helping find space as the hosts were increasingly pushed back.
When it seemed as though Rovers would again fail to convert dominance into goals, Marquis struck.
And going ahead brought out another pleasing side of Rovers.
Cheltenham inevitably came forward but met a black brick wall.
Rovers showed real doggedness and grit against a physically robust outfit.
The make-up of the defence may still be taking shape, but you would not have known it.
Excellent organisation and a real desire to put bodies on the line made for encouraging viewing.
This aspect of the game will be as important as Rovers’ attacking chops as they hunt for a route back to League One.
COPPS TURNS BACK THE CLOCK
There had been concerns over the first few games that time was catching up with James Coppinger.
But the Rovers legend was magnificent and key to so much of the attacking play.
Starting from the tip of a midfield diamond, Coppinger launched forward quickly to support the front two and his incisive passing kept the pressure on.
Perhaps the biggest positive was the continued development of his relationship with Tommy Rowe as the pair continually exchanged position as well as passes to maintain an impressive tempo to Rovers’ play.
QUESTIONS OVER THE KEEPERS
After picking up a clean sheet against Cambridge United in midweek, Marko Marosi retained his place in goal ahead of Ross Etheridge.
And he repeated the feat at Whaddon Road, largely down to a superb save from Billy Waters in the first half.
While there was few faults to be found in Marosi’s ability to keep the ball out of the net, his performance was not without flaws.
The Slovakian has yet to grasp the style of distribution demanded by Darren Ferguson – as the Rovers boss made all too clear with several rollickings from inside his technical area.
Ferguson wants to play out from the back and quickly, something Marosi has yet to master.
His attempts to pick the right pass saw him hesitate and even earn a booking for time-wasting.
Until he fully adapts his game to Ferguson’s wishes, he will not have cemented his claim on the starting shirt.