One To Watch – Doncaster live contenders for League One promotion


DONCASTER have enjoyed a positive start to their 2018/19 League One campaign and EFL lover Gabriel Sutton (@_FootbalLab) explains why he sees them as a team to get behind.

One To Watch – Why Doncaster can challenge for top League One honours

The general rule of football is that if you have more possession, more shots and more shots on-target than your opponents in most games, you will generally win more than you lose.

Simple, perhaps, but it’s a formula that could pay dividends for Doncaster Rovers.

Firstly, they have had more possession than their opponents in all six of their league games with an average of 55% and the key to this is Benjamin Whiteman.

Last season, the ex-Mansfield technician didn’t quite have the influence he might have hoped to have because Darren Ferguson wanted midfielders to play short, square passes; only releasing the shackles on them intermittently.

With more simplistic midfielders Jordan Houghton and Luke McCullough at MK Dons and Tranmere respectively, Whiteman has been freed up and – without an obvious holding midfielder – there is more spontaneity in the movement off the ball, thus making it harder for opponents to know who to pin-down.

McCann's men dominating the data

New boss Grant McCann wants fluidity in his side, but he’s not afraid to dish out a rollicking when things aren’t going well.

The ex-Peterborough boss fumed with his players after the first-half at Southend on day one, when star keeper Marko Marosi kept them level at the break; he said he didn’t recognise the players he had worked with over pre-season.

After half-time, a largely dominant second-half helped Rovers to a 3-2 victory which provided a confidence boost.

Since that day, Doncaster have been able to implement McCann’s ideas more consistently: they have out-shot their opponents 72 to 47 across five games; 14 to nine on average.

They have had 27 shots on-target to their opponents’ 17 – five to three on average – which is a big advantage that Rovers consistently have over their opponents in most games.

Marquis the man to fire Rovers forward

John Marquis remains the obvious threat and is 25/1 with Betfair to become the division’s Top Goalscorer in 2018/19.

While last season, he scored 14 goals despite having his team-mates a long way behind him – especially in the first-half of games – this year, he has better service.

Support comes in the form of the mobile Mallik Wilks, who appears to have learnt a lot from last season’s loan spells at Accrington and Grimsby, plus Alfie May, who has been doing extra work on his snapshots in training.

When one considers that attack-minded midfielders like the evergreen James Coppinger and the effervescent Tommy Rowe have also been at their creative best, then a return of seven goals perhaps undersells the threat Donny have posed.

Solid base puts Donny in promotion contention

Defensively, too, they have looked strong: the South Yorkshire outfit are yet to concede at home and have only fallen behind once on the road in the 1-0 defeat at Burton.

Andy Butler has long been an aerial beast at this level and centre-back partner Joe Wright is developing nicely too; a positive scan suggests his absence won’t extend beyond one game.

Left-back Danny Andrew, who has offered much-needed pace and width since returning from injury, is a doubt for Saturday’s hosting of Luton, which is not ideal with Danny Amos also sidelined; although Rowe has deputised there before.

Overall though, Doncaster have shown real potential; before ending two unbeaten records with positive performances in 1-1 draws with Portsmouth and Peterborough, they attained a very respectable seven points from four games.

Maintain that form whilst becoming more clinical in front of goal and the team 9/1 for promotion with Betfair could be serious contenders.

Article published on 4th September.

Best Bets

League One 2018/19 – John Marquis to be top goalscorer (25/1 Betfair)

League One 2018/19 – Doncaster to win promotion (9/1 Betfair)

About Author

Gabriel discovered the betting world through his passion for English football; he had a mixed start in April 2014, landing a solid treble before being let down the week after by beleaguered Torquay winning at Bristol Rovers. Although he often follows his beloved Birmingham City, he also covers other teams in the Midlands and enjoys visiting new grounds further afield now and again. Quite likes sitcom Not Going Out, too.

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