Midweek takeaway: a positive first impression as Doncaster Rovers kicks off the butler era in the perfect way



Whether it was Andy Butler in the dugout or the players on the pitch for Doncaster Rovers, they started a whole new era on a positive note.

There would always be questions about Darren Moore’s sudden and rapid impact on the group.

And then there were the small details of a five-game streak that resulted in four losses and the threat of a very promising season fading away.

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The Rovers team celebrates with Fejiri Okenabirhie after his goal against Portsmouth. Photo: Andrew Roe / AHPIX

But a well-deserved victory over promotion rivals Portsmouth, thanks to an impressive and entertaining performance, answered many questions in one fell swoop.

There were calls from the wide variety expected from Butler in his squad selection.

Handing over the impressive Louis Jones to his league debut in goals was the most important, ending the vice-like grip the loan keepers had on the former manager’s job.

And it came as no surprise to see James Coppinger in the starting XI for just the sixth time in the league this season. This number will undoubtedly increase significantly over the next few months.

After the sterile dominance of the ball in the loss to Ipswich Town this weekend, it was a more aggressive version of the Rovers.

There remained a desire to control possession but it was also balanced by the determination to move into advanced positions quickly rather than playing a game of patience.

The movement off the ball was excellent, giving John Bostock and Matt Smith plenty of options for a pass as they took possession of the pitch in the middle of the park.

Bostock in particular pulled the strings in midfield, with his wonderful deep ball to set Reece James up for a 12th-minute opener typical of his overall quality on the ball.

It was surprising that Portsmouth had little response in the first half, with the Rovers battling a lethargic visiting team.

While the Rovers’ baseline remained determined to play, there was also sometimes a welcome streak of common sense to keep the ball away from danger.

It was important when Portsmouth came out stronger after the break, with a system change that gave them a grip on the game without disturbing Jones’ goal too much.

And there was welcome cruelty as Rovers scored a second goal in the 70th minute.

Scott Robertson found Fejiri Okenabirhie who propelled into space before throwing a shot into the roof of the net from a ridiculously tight angle.

He seemed to put the game to bed.

But there was the familiarity of a late goal for an opposition that seemed dead and buried. It has been one of the stories of the season that Rovers can’t help but concede no matter what the circumstances.

But it would have been unfair if Portsmouth had found an equalizer in the few seconds left after former Rovers striker John Marquis returned a goal to them – although it took a heroic defense from Reece James to prevent that. .

James throwing himself in front of Harvey White to keep him from hitting with the last kick of the game was indicative of the collective desire and determination to get it right.

And it was the perfect way to end a positive first impression.




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