Paul Goodwin: Oldham will provide biggest test yet for ‘new’ Rovers

Theo Robinson
Theo Robinson

The biggest test yet for the new ‘harder to beat’ Doncaster Rovers will come at Boundary Park tomorrow.

Up and down Doncaster turned something of a corner by shutting out MK Dons last month, since embarking on a run of one defeat in seven games.

The turn around in form has noticeably coincided with the addition of Andy Butler and Sam Johnstone, and the return to somewhere near full fitness of Richie Wellens and Curtis Main.

However, Rovers’ resurgence - and the observation that they have become harder to play against - will really be put to the test by the in-form Latics.

In all honesty, there aren’t many worse draws that Doncaster could have picked out.

Incredibly, Oldham have lost just once in the league since August - to Bristol City. Their only other defeat in that period of time came against Preston in the JPT - on penalties.

Lee Johnson, aged just 33, has not just got Athletic playing a good brand of football but has also seemingly installed a winning mentality in his short time in the hot seat once occupied by Paul Dickov.

Having already lost to the Latics this season, Rovers know exactly what sort of welcome lies in wait for them this weekend.

They will face a side who are compact, well organised and able to break at speed, thanks to the pace of former Doncaster striker Jonathan Forte.

But Rovers also know if they can repeat the good aspects of Tuesday night’s draw at Barnsley, they stand a very good chance of being in the hat for the third round on Monday night.

During open play Rovers again defended in dogged fashion; their work rate when not in possession was excellent.

Similar energy and enthusiasm will be required tomorrow, and it goes without saying that they can’t afford to switch off at a set piece like they did at Oakwell.

More encouragement at Barnsley came in the final third. Often this season Rovers have been somewhat laboured in attack but on Tuesday night the lively Kyle Bennett and Theo Robinson, in particular, looked very sharp.

Rovers’ intricate passing was the best it’s been this season at times too - but they need to heed their manager’s advice and not overcomplicate things, because unlike Barnsley the Latics have the ability to really hurt Rovers.