Up to second in the League Two table, Rovers head into a stretch of tough fixtures in confident mood, but can we keep it going?
Man of the Hour, Month…Year?
Back-to-back wins have seen Fergie’s boys dispel the worry brought on by the 2-1 defeat to Crewe that we can’t put enough chances away to compete in this league, and the man at the centre of proving that theory wrong is James Coppinger. The veteran midfielder is enjoying a vintage run of form and has deservedly taken all the headlines at the club in the past couple of weeks. Copps was the starring man as Rovers put Morecambe to the sword on a glorious afternoon on the west coast, justifying his award of the division’s Player of the Month for August by having a major hand in two goals then scoring a peach himself to wrap up the 5-1 win on his historic 500th appearance.
The club legend continues to be a record-breaker with every passing appearance in the shirt and if he keeps up his current outlay this could easily end up being his most successful of thirteen seasons playing for Doncaster Rovers, and that is no mean feat considering the huge part he played in the promotion campaigns of 2007/08 and 2012/13. The 35-year-old produced the goods again on his first home outing after reaching the big 500, netting a sumptuous free kick to put us on our way to victory over Newport last Saturday on his way to yet another Man of the Match award. As long as Coppinger continues to have this kind of impact on games, Rovers are always an even bet at worst to win games.
Attacking Harmony at Last
Barnes and Blundell, Sharp and Diouf…”The HeffnHayter” (okay, maybe not)…it has been a while since we could say our front two are in-sync with one another. Indeed, it isn’t something that Rovers squads through the ages are known for, but in the opening six weeks of this season we have seen strike partners Andy Williams and John Marquis strike up quite a rapport. Of course this isn’t just down to the two of them, but in amongst a terrific team effort we have seen excellent results out of both forwards, and a goal return of nine from 8 games is impressive in any league.
Indeed, we currently boast three of the top ten goalscorers in League Two with Williams, Marquis and Coppinger netting thirteen goals between them, and the Reds are now the outright top scoring team of all. The understanding between these men, along with fellow attacking talents Tommy Rowe, Matty Blair and the improving Harry Middleton, mean we should not fear any side in the league and that is a message worth conveying by Darren Ferguson as we prepare for away trips to pre-season favourites Luton and Portsmouth, either side of a home game against undefeated Carlisle.
Where is our ceiling?
Most would answer that question quite easily: we don’t have one. Rovers should be aspiring to top the table and are now just two points off of doing just that, but the highest praise you can give this team in the early months is that they have dealt with adversity pretty well. The treatment room has had to deal with nearly as many players as the full training sessions have, and Rovers’ run of five wins in the last six games has come with an increasingly depleted squad. So if a team missing a number of first choice players can perform this well, what might they be capable of if and when everyone is fighting fit again?
A makeshift defence has coped very well with continual losses over recent matches, and whilst Matty Blair should be commended for his displays as an emergency right back, the return of Frazer Richardson is needed to allow Blair more freedom going forward again. Mitchell Lund is also missing, whilst the arguable first choice in that position, Craig Alcock, is also still a few weeks away from a starting place. Add to that the yet-to-debut Mathieu Baudry, loanee Niall Mason also in defence, tough nut Paul Keegan and forward Gary McSheffrey, and suddenly the manager could have a huge selection dilemma on his hands come October. Imagine having that dilemma whilst sitting top of the table already? It’s entirely possible.