Doncaster Rovers v Tranmere preview: Time for Rovers to walk the talk

Doncaster Rovers' Rob Jones in action against Swindon Town at the Keepmoat Stadium.
Doncaster Rovers' Rob Jones in action against Swindon Town at the Keepmoat Stadium.

No one does an interview quite like Rob Jones.

If you saw Jones’ on the pitch reaction immediately after Monday’s televised win over Swindon Town, you will know exactly what I mean.

Remember his post-Crawley rant?

Well this one was equally outspoken and memorable - and on this occasion a lot more positive.

Doncaster’s old school skipper encapsulated the club’s current blend of spirit, togetherness, tenacity and talent that has catapulted Rovers to within touching distance of a return to the Championship in an inspirational two-minute sound bite.

He lavished praise on a brilliant dressing room, the best squad he has ever been part of and made Sky Sports’ unsuspecting reporter fully aware that Rovers are currently in the position in which they belong. At the top of the pile.

It was passionate stuff, delivered from the heart.

And watching it, and then placing yourself in the changing room next to the Corporal, it is easy to see why the Doncaster lads look up to ‘Jonah’ in more than just a literal sense.

He can talk the talk, of that there is little doubt. A manager in waiting.

But on Monday, against a Swindon side who had dominated against Doncaster at the County Ground earlier in the season, his team also walked the walked.

They had the look of champions.

It was not a particularly flash performance. And at times in the first half, as both sides struggled on a shocking surface, it was not particularly pleasing on the eye.

But for almost the duration of a surprisingly one-sided encounter they had the Robins exactly where they wanted them - at arm’s length. That’s the Doncaster way.

Jones’ full-blooded spiel must have been music to the ears of Rovers fans who had watched their side click into gear when it really mattered.

They looked strong at the back. Jamie McCombe should not just be lauded for his winning goal, a timely first goal in Rovers colours, but the big centre back also put his head in where it hurts in his own penalty area and defended with real composure.

Dean Furman, or the new Brian Stock as he has been labelled by some supporters, was the conductor in midfield, breaking play up and using possession intelligently.

While Chris Brown was a pillar of strength in attack, allowing Kyle Bennett, James Coppinger, David Cotterill and later Iain Hume the opportunity to probe Swindon’s nervous back-line.

Victory on Monday, hard earned but thoroughly merited, felt like the biggest step yet on the road back to the Championship.

It also provided a blueprint for Doncaster’s difficult looking run-in; give the opposition no time on the ball, defend from the front, take your chances.

But that has been the way for most of this rollercoaster season. There was no wonder Jones exuded such pride and confidence when a microphone was thrust into his face seconds after the final whistle.

And there lies the key to Rovers’ lofty position. Belief.

This group of players, a mix of old experienced heads like Jones and players like David Cotterill who ought to be operating at a higher level, fully believe they belong in the Championship.

Anything less than a top two finish, in a season that was meant to be more about stabilising than fighting for promotion, would now be regarded as a failure by these players.

Jones is the ring-leader. And a good one at that.

But he must keep on delivering his words of wisdom as Rovers strive to reach their end goal.

This squad has the drive to finish off the job - and home wins in their next two games would see them have one foot back in the Championship.

Tomorrow’s visit of Tranmere will be another tricky test. Like Swindon, they are a team who gave Rovers the run around on their own patch, despite the scoreline.

But Doncaster to a man know exactly what is required. Jones will have made sure of that.

It’s time for Rovers to walk the talk.