Doncaster Rovers v Derby County: Paul Goodwin’s verdict

Rovers' Fredric Piquionne heads just wide against Reading. Picture: Andrew Roe
Rovers' Fredric Piquionne heads just wide against Reading. Picture: Andrew Roe

IT’S amazing what confidence can do in football.

When Tyrone Barnett headed home Peterborough’s late late equaliser less than three weeks ago it felt like the first nail had been hammered into Rovers’ relegation coffin.

But in the words of Dean Saunders, who must take the plaudits for picking his players up after the devastating setbacks against the Posh and Leeds, Doncaster are now far from “dead and buried”.

The performances against Forest, West Ham and then Reading were literally bursting with passion, desire and commitment.

They were a joy to watch not just because of the fighting qualities on show but because of the quality of football on display from Doncaster.

They have restored a feel-good factor to the club and given even those that had written Rovers off the belief that a great escape is now possible.

Put simply, they have put the pride back into Doncaster Rovers.

Now Rovers have to strike while the iron is hot and pick up at least one win from the forthcoming crucial home double-header with Derby and Millwall - and really turn the heat up on their relegation rivals.

Pride was the overwhelming emotion at Upton Park on Saturday when Rovers overcame a shaky start to deliver one of their most confident and composed performances of the campaign.

Saunders’ tactical nous came to the fore - and the way his players carried out his instructions to the letter was particularly impressive.

Tuesday night was more ‘Harte in mouth’.

Thankfully Rovers will not come up against anyone else with the sort of quality displayed by Ian Harte between now and the end of the season.

Rovers rode their luck somewhat against the Royals - but they are earning that luck through their sheer graft.

Confidence is coursing through the veins of the whole team at the moment and Doncaster have more than enough quality to raid the Rams and then tame the Lions.

My only concern is the burn-out factor.

Playing such a high intensity game twice a week will surely catch up with the lads at some point - despite the best efforts of fitness coach Mal Purchase.

For the moment, however, Rovers are running on pure adrenaline.

They have done themselves proud.

They have given themselves a fighting chance.

Prediction: Rovers 2 Derby 1