MATCH REOPORT: Doncaster 4 Scunthorpe 0

On target: Billy Paynter hits home the fourth.                                      Picture: Andrew Roe
On target: Billy Paynter hits home the fourth. Picture: Andrew Roe

DONCASTER Rovers form at the Keepmoat Stadium in League One has proved patchy for most of the season with both wins and goals in short supply.

It has mainly been their superb away record which has kept Rovers hopes of bouncing back to the Championship at the first attempt alive.

But all that could be about to change if Rovers can build on their biggest home win against the Iron in over 30 years.

Brian Laws’ men melted away as Rovers turned up the heat in the second half.

The size of their victory, and the manner in which it was achieved, underlined the fact that not only are Rovers more than a match for anyone in this division on their day, but that talk of automatic promotion is not without substance.

Everyone knows that Rovers don’t have the biggest squad in the division, and if the shareholders are serious about wanting Championship football again that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later, which I believe it will be.

But what Rovers have got is a number of quality players at this level, a wonderful team spirit and a great work ethic and those qualities can get you a long way in League One.

Rovers have looked tense at times this season at the Keepmoat Stadium, and their ratio of chances turned into goals has been well down on that produced on their travels.

There is still room for improvement and they had the chances to hand out their biggest-ever beating to their rivals from down the M180.

But after scoring only seven in their previous eight League One games, most fans would have gone happy having seen Dean Saunders’ side bang in three.

The opening goal was scored by United right-back Christian Ribeiro. He put in his own net trying to clear the danger from a cross at the far post under pressure from Martin Woods.

Woods looks to be adjusting to the left wing role in recent outings and he had another good game before coming off with stomach cramp midway through the second half.

Prior to the 22nd minute goal there hadn’t been much to choose between the two teams with the visitors looking keen to make amends for their 2-1 home defeat against fellow strugglers Bury in midweek - their first reversal in the league since Laws returned to Glanford Park at the end of last month.

That was also the case for the rest of the first 45 minutes with half-chances at both ends.

The complexion of the game changed within in a minute of the restart after Rovers added a second goal.

Famed for his spectacular long-range goals, Cotterill scored from just a few yards out after keeper Steve Mildenhall could only push Iain’s Hume’s cross from the left away and the former Swansea City man was well placed to fire the ball home to make it 2-0.

The goal effectively killed the game off as a contest, and for virtually the first time at home in the league this season the players were able to relax and enjoy their football, as I am sure the Doncaster supporters in the club’s biggest home crowd of the season did.

Not that the Glanford Park club were ready to throw in the towel just yet. Mark Duffy shot just wide from 25 yards, and Jimmy Ryan forced keeper Gary Woods to make a rare save.

But any outside hopes the Iron entertained of salvaging a result were finally extinguished on 62 minutes.

Mildendhall did well to deny striker Billy Paynter, after the big striker had dribbled himself into space, at the expense of a corner.

But it merely proved a stay of execution for the visitors as former Scunthorpe favourite Rob Jones met Cotterill’s inviting cross from the corner and headed home for the second time in as many games to make it 3-0 and underline his aerial dominance in either box.

It is no wonder they that both the Doncaster players and fans look up to the 6’ 7” Rovers’ skipper, for he epitomises everything they look for in a leader on the field.

Paynter capped a hard-working display when adding a fourth just two minutes later. Admittedly his angled shot took a slight deflection, but he was due a bit of luck.

Jones went close to another goal from a corner and substitute David Syers is probably still wondering how he didn’t equal Rovers biggest win over the Iron after being put through on goal by Hume in the 87th minute.

Saunders’ joy at the result was in stark comparison to his Scunthorpe counterpart.

“It was a local derby and in games like that you have to show some pride and passion. I didn’t see that from us in the second half,” said Laws.

The ‘honeymoon’ period looks to over following successive defeats and with leading scorer Leon Clarke, well contained for most part, set to return to Charlton early next month, Laws knows that he has a tough task on his hands to keep the Lincolnshire club in League One.

But while he has the necessary experience to turn things around, you wouldn’t be wise to bet on them both being in the same division this time next year.