After all the pressure and tension of the previous few games Rovers there seemed to be something of a care free atmosphere in the Keepmoat Stadium for this match. With Carlisle six points clear of Rovers in second, the edge was taken off, and the players, like the fans, relaxed and did the simple things to produce a comfortable win.
Following the old adage that you should never change a winning team Sean O’Driscoll made five alterations to the starting Rovers line-up; in came Gareth Taylor and Mark McCammon up front, Lewis Guy just behind them, Sean McDaid into the midfield and young Sam Hird received a rarae start at centre half in place of the suspended Matt Mills.
Despite the alterations Rovers looked in control throughout surely a reflection of the strength in depth in the current squad. Despite the absence of four central defenders, two key central midfielders, and arguably the club’s four best forwards those who were wearing the hoops seemed in no doubt of their own abilities. Rovers had early chances as Brian Stock found the side netting and later Lewis Guy tested the huge Peter Grezovan in the Swindon goal.
However, despite controlling possession and being urged on by an endless rhythm of ‘Red Army’ from the South Stand Rovers had to wait until the fortieth minute to make the breakthrough, and it came from the unlikeliest of sources. Gareth Taylor perfectly weighted a pass through the Swindon defence and Sean McDaid comfortably slotted the ball home with much more confidence than you’d expect from a man registering his first ever league goal in three seasons with the Rovers.
For Doncaster fans there is perhaps no more unsettling feeling at the moment than watching Rovers defend a free-kick around the box. The source of goals for most of Rovers recent opponents nearly gave Swindon an equaliser early in the second half but Michael Timlin’s effort was just the wrong side of Neil Sullivan’s left post. The keeper himself was on hand to prevent an equaliser moments later with an acrobatic tip over the bar following a ricochet off substitute Billy Paynter.
Storm weathered it was Rovers turn to attack and they did so with markedly more success; another beautifully weighted through ball from Taylor released Mark McCammon who broke into the box only to be brought down by Hasney Aljofree. A penalty and a red card for the defender who made a very slow exit down the tunnel and so missed Stock’s coolly taken penalty to give Rovers a 2-0 advantage.
This was by no means a great performance by Rovers, in fact the defeat against Leeds probably produced better passages of play. However, it was a controlled performance and encouragingly shows that when brought into first team action Rovers fringe players can do the job asked of them.
Man of the Match: Credit to Sean McDaid for not only his first league goal, but also a solid all round performance in midfield. However, I have to give the nod to Gareth Taylor, effectively set up both goals and looked thoroughly in control without. I’ve seen Taylor play for the Wales in past, and finally I can now see why he was capped.
Doncaster Rovers line-up (4-3-1-2); Neil Sullivan; James O’Connor, Stephen Roberts, Sam Hird, Gareth Roberts; Brian Stock, Paul Green, Sean McDaid; Lewis Guy (Jason Price); Gareth Taylor (James Hayter), Mark McCammon (Stuart Elliott)
subs not used: Paul Heffernan, Martin Woods
booked: Sam Hird (pulling back an opponent)
Swindon Town line-up (4-4-2): Peter Brezovan; Jack Smith, Jerel Ifill, Hasney Aljofree, Jamie Vincent; Craig Easton, Michael Timlin, Jon-Paul McGovern, Anthony McNamee (Billy Painter); Lee Peacock, Simon Cox (Andy Nicholas)
subs not used: Micahel Pook, Kaid Mohammed, Phil Smith
booked: Peter Brezovan (comedically obvious obstruction), Michael Timlin (poor sliding challenge on Paul Green)
sent off: Hasney Aljofree (foul on Mark McCammon in the penalty area)