Dons boss Miller shows dignity in semi defeat

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IT speaks volumes for Dons’ boss Tony Miller’s sportsmanship that he went out on to the pitch after Sunday’s 22-20 Championship One elimination Play-off semi-final defeat at the Keepmoat Stadium and shook the hands of all the Barrow players.

Miller must have been very disappointed after seeing his side beaten for the first time at home at this level this season and the circumstances in which it occurred.

By Miller’s own admission, there is little to chose between the Dons, Barrow and Workington who both had chances to pip them for top spot in the league during the run-in.

For the Dons to have play-maker Paul Cooke injured directly from the kick-off undoubtedly influenced the result.

Barrow are a good side, but such is the influence that the former Super League star exerts on the Doncaster team that I have no doubt in my own mind that had he not been injured the Dons would have booked their place in the final at Warrington on Sunday week.

The Dons get a second bite of the cherry as a result of finishing in the top two, and can still do it. But it is going to be a big ask to beat Workington Town in Sunday’s semi-final without Cooke at the helm calling the shots - though the fact they are at home is a big advantage.

Many fans, as did Cooke himself, felt that the stand-off was targeted by the Barrow players. I didn’t see the incident as I was just finishing typing the Barrow team on my computer.

But it wouldn’t be the first time that a key player had been ‘taken out’ in my 50 years of watching the game, though such incidents are a lot less frequent these days as a result of all games being filmed.

Saturday’s win at Colchester was a welcome result for Doncaster Rovers after successive league defeats. It wasn’t always pretty, but it was effective.

Tuesday’s South Yorkshire League One derby against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane had been eagerly anticipated by many Doncaster Rovers’ fans.

Unfortunately, the game proved a bit a bit of a damp squib and there were few fireworks on the night as the two teams battled to a scrappy goalless draw.

The Blades are most people’s favourites to go up this season. But even taking into account the fact that they were without two suspended midfielders, I don’t think they are anywhere near as strong as they were last season when they finished third with more than 90 points.

Rovers might not have played the sort of cultured football on Tuesday night that they have on their previous visits to Bramall Lane in recent times, but they defended resolutely on the night with former Sheffield Wednesday defender Rob Jones again proving outstanding in the heart of the back-four.

No doubt that there will have been a few Rovers fans who questioned manager Dean Saunders wisdom when he brought the 6’ 7” centre-back in during the summer after he was considered surplus to requirements at Hillsborough. But there can’t be anyone still questioning Saunders’ decision to bring Jones to the club for his new skipper has hardly put a foot wrong since the action got under way.

Both he and fellow centre-back Jamie McCombe look ideally suited to the defensive requirements of League One where the ball is in the air far more often than it was in the Championship.