Staying power required: Liam Hoden’s Rovers verdict

Rovers' Giles Barnes wins the aerial challenge against Middlesborough's Julio Arc. Picture: Andrew Roe
Rovers' Giles Barnes wins the aerial challenge against Middlesborough's Julio Arc. Picture: Andrew Roe

A LARGE part of following a club so closely is looking for the positives from every match.

On the surface, there seems very few plus points that could be taken from two disappointing results against Coventry and Middlesbrough.

Defeat to the latter side sent Rovers back to the foot of the Championship and seven points away from safety.

At face value, the signs are anything but positive.

But there are a few glimmers of light there which ensure all is not yet lost.

El Hadji Diouf made exactly the right kind of debut he needed to make.

Since the striker signed on Monday, there has been a lot of focus on the negative sides of his game and personality.

But on Tuesday night, the positives of Rovers snatching a two-time African player of the year shone through.

He was tricky, played some excellent passes and crafted scoring opportunities.

With one of his first touches, Diouf bamboozled Rhys Williams and darted past him to the edge of the area.

He was clearly lacking fitness and it was his ability with the ball at his feet rather than his stamina which kept him on the pitch for 73 minutes.

Match sharpness will come and on first viewing, Diouf looks like he could very well make the right kind of impression over the next three months.

On a wider scale, anyone looking at the first 25 minutes of Tuesday night’s match would have thought Rovers were at the top of the table rather than the bottom and the same goes for the early stages against Coventry.

Rovers were electric in a frenetic opening salvo against Boro, attacking with real menace and restricting Tony Mowbray’s side to very little.

Against the Sky Blues, Doncaster should have been two or three goals up, through James Hayter, Kyle Bennett and the impressive Giles Barnes, by the time the sucker punch from Sammy Clingan came.

Barnes looked particularly good and his failure to come out for the second half killed a lot of the good things Rovers were doing.

The trouble in both games was once the crack in the door appeared, the opposition barged straight through it.

And after conceding, Rovers lost their composure, attempting passes they would not have dreamed of in the minutes prior.

It is very difficult to not return to pessimism when it comes to Rovers right now because the stats are telling.

So optimism is hard to find when looking to the potential outcome of Saturday’s trip to Portman Road.

Dean Saunders’ priority must be finding the key to ensuring Rovers can keep a high level of performance up beyond half an hour.

But that task may be too great to be achieved in the few days he has this week.