What’s the word on Rovers after creditable away draw? Fleetwood Town 0 Doncaster 0

John Marquis impressed at Fleetwood
John Marquis impressed at Fleetwood

Once the word was concentration. Then it was consistency. Now it is progress.

Rovers took another step forward in their improvement and development with a battling point at wind-swept and bitterly cold Fleetwood.

They took the game to a genuine play-off contender, one that you would tip for a second consecutive top-six finish on this evidence.

And they also kept them at bay, becoming the first side this season to prevent Fleetwood from scoring at Highbury.

It was a draw that left them five unbeaten, with only two defeats in their last ten in all competitions.

This is progress.

And this was far from a dull, uneventful stalemate.

It was a game between two exceptionally hard-working teams, both of whom were dedicated to trying to play football.

Real clear-cut chances were lacking but there was plenty of endeavour and plenty of battle.

For Fleetwood, it was about getting the ball to the flanks and sending crosses into the box. Wing-back Wes Burns gave them a torrid time in the first half, delivering superb balls that his teammates could not take advantage of.

In the second half Rovers were the stronger. They made their possession count, built play well and got into some decent positions.

John Marquis twice saw two fine shots saved by Doncaster-born Alex Cairns while Rodney Kongolo squandered a chance to win it late on when he tamely fired straight at the keeper.

In the end, a draw was probably a fair result. But there is plenty of heart to be taken from the performance.

DEFENSIVE STRENGTH

If this game had been played in these exact circumstances in September, Rovers could very easily have come away with nothing.

It was a match which required supreme concentration and tireless work. One slip and Fleetwood could very easily have struck, such was the intensity on show.

There were a couple of moments in the first half when slack passing at the back almost presented Fleetwood with chances.

But in the main, Rovers looked a strong defensive unit and seemed increasingly resilient as the game wore on.

They dramatically reduced the problem of Burns’ barrage of crosses in the second half and ensured there was barely a sniff for striker Devante Cole.

The back three are working together superbly at the moment and are well shielded by Jordan Houghton and Rodney Kongolo.

As Rovers look to continue their upturn in form, they now appear to have very solid foundations.

MAKING HIS MARQ’

It is fair to say John Marquis has yet to hit the heights of last season so far this term.

But he came very close to making a mark late in the game with two good chances, both of which drew fine saves from Alex Cairns.

While he did not hit the back of the net, it was pleasing to see Marquis in the positions he was in to get a shot away.

Far too much this season he has drifted deep or out wide to look for the ball. What that does, particularly in the current system, is neuter Rovers’ most potent weapon in front of goal.

Marquis is nowhere near as effective in deeper-lying or wide areas. That is not his game.

As he proved last season, goals are his game.

So he needs to leave the leg work to James Coppinger and Tommy Rowe, who are in the front three to create and support.

Sticking in and around the box will see plenty more chances come Marquis’ way and you would bank on him to take them.

Click here for up-to-date news from the Keepmoat