YOU just can’t put a price on quality. Or can you?
After an active couple of days in the transfer market, Dean Saunders watched Rovers creep past Colchester and revealed there might be space for one more January addition, providing someone also moves in the opposite direction.
Post-match there was not a hint of the fervent speculation that would later link Rovers young boss with the vacant Wolves manager’s job.
Before departing for Wolves, Saunders would have been wishing, the transfer window would slam shut right now, before a Championship club also comes calling for talented midfielder David Cotterill.
Cotterill is hardly flying under the radar.
He leads both Rovers goals and assists charts, his set pieces are a constant threat, and on Saturday he single-handedly earned his team three points with another classy finish that defied the dreary and downbeat game it decided.
Cotterill endured a rather frustrating afternoon, as did most of his teammates, as a bright and breezy Colchester side outshone a jaded-looking Rovers before the break but tired as a tedious game drifted towards a goalless stalemate.
But as sloppiness and lethargy began to creep into United’s game, it was Cotterill who took full advantage, and in some style.
Having switched over to the left flank to accommodate substitute James Coppinger, Cotterill picked up the ball on half way with one thing in his mind. After stepping inside Brian Wilson, he reached the edge of the box, where he let fly with a trademark right foot curler.
The Keepmoat crowd simply waited for the net to bulge.
It’s no fluke with Cotterill, it’s pure class. And you just wonder how long can Doncaster hold onto him?
Maybe as long as Saunders remains in charge, which might not be long.
For the Welshman was also the main pulling factor when it came to Emile Sinclair and Lee Fowler joining Saunders’ Rovers revolution on the very eve of Doncaster’s first home win since November 27. Incidentally it was 1-0 then too, against Oldham, and that man Cotterill got the goal.
Sinclair looked every inch a player that had been thrust straight into completely new surroundings, struggling to make the ball stick as he slotted in for suspended Billy Paynter.
But the moment in the first half, when he did hold onto it in a dangerous area before unleashing a volley just wide of the post, showed the promise of the Peterborough loanee.
Sinclair’s effort was one of very few to get the subdued Keepmoat crowd off their feet during a timid first half.
Rovers appeared to be suffering from the derby hangover that Saunders had indeed feared, while Colchester’s bright interplay belied their shocking run of seven defeats on the spin.
United’s five-man midfield had a grip on the game, forcing Iain Hume to drop deeper and deeper, and it was the visitors who enjoyed the best of the half chances, as Marcus Bean glanced Anthony Wordsworth’s right wing centre just wide of the right hand upright, before Drey Wright ghosted into the box and forced Gary Woods to save low down.
Below-par Rovers were perhaps slightly fortunate to go in level at the break, particularly when Josh Thompson rose highest to head home Brian Wilson’s left wing free kick, only for his effort to be ruled out for pushing.
The tireless Hume looked most likely for the home side, after the break exchanging passes with Dave Syers before drilling wide, and then finding himself on the end of a Tommy Spurr long throw, only to see his close range effort blocked by goalkeeper Mark Cousins.
As Colchester tired, and Rovers plodded on, there appeared to be no way through for either side. A missed opportunity it seemed for Doncaster, with several of their promotion rivals not on league duty.
But Cotterill had other ideas, producing the game’s defining moment out of absolutely nothing.
It was a moment of sublime quality from the winger, a moment not in-keeping with the forgettable 83 minutes that went before it, but another moment that earned Rovers maximum points on a day they were nowhere near their best.
Saunders, who would later become the subject of intense speculation himself, praised the character of his current team at full time.
He said: “It was a scrap. Last week’s game against Sheffield United took its toll on the players emotionally and physically and you could see we were just a yard short.
“We couldn’t get any legs going forward and we couldn’t get any football going.
“I thought James Coppinger and Lee Fowler made a difference.
“Emile turned up at 10am and hadn’t trained with the players. He’ll only get better, he was a bit rusty but he showed flashes of what he can do.
“I’m really pleased. That’s four games we’ve gone now without the opposition even having a half chance against us, only shots from long range.
“We’re defending great and when we don’t string it together, like we did today, we keep a clean sheet and we stay in the game.
“This team is full of character and they know how to win without playing brilliantly.”