Doncaster Rovers 2 Brentford 1: Cotterill aims high as Rovers stage late comeback

Iain Hume is tipped up by Stuart Dallas
Iain Hume is tipped up by Stuart Dallas
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Over the course of a season collective cohesion will invariably prove more successful than bursts of individual quality.

But in this snapshot of League One action it was those solo flashes of ruthlessness that told.

Brentford were a class apart for 75 minutes, looking very much a team equipped to mount a sustained promotion challenge with their strong running, quick passing and fluid movement.

Doncaster were completely overrun in midfield by the swarming Bees, who led through a well-crafted goal by Jonathan Douglas on the stroke of half-time.

If Uwe Rosler’s side want for anything it is a clinical nature and in the second half they could not put Rovers to bed.

And for that they were punished, as up stepped two seasoned operators to transform the game with a superb strike and an expert piece of attacking play.

First, in the 75th minute, David Cotterill continued his fine goalscoring form with a 25-yard strike that swerved away from the despairing reach of Bees goalkeeper Simon Moore.

Then, with six minutes remaining, Billy Paynter left his marker for dead with a dash to the middle of the penalty area to meet Martin Woods’s left-wing cross and power a header beyond Moore.

It was a scarcely-deserved three points, and full credit to the players and management of Doncaster who were under no illusions that it was anything other than daylight robbery.

“We were right up against it today, and we were deservedly losing, but we showed great character and great determination,” said Cotterill.

“In this league performances are never going to be magnificent because it’s always a battle.

“Like you saw today, Brentford probably thought they were cruising but they switch off a couple of times and they’re 2-1 down.

“That’s the way this league is. We went to Hartlepool last week and battered them in the first 20 minutes and came away relieved to have snatched a draw.

“We need to avoid allowing teams to apply the pressure. Every time we made a mistake they were on us quickly and we need to cut out those errors.”

Had Cotterill’s 25-yarder been two foot to the right and whistled past the post then Rovers would probably have lost, such was the confidence that the goal breathed into the team and the majority of the 6,555 crowd.

Having a player of his quality in a team, especially in the form he is in this season, can always lead to something from nothing.

And his high spirits are the mark of a player who looks settled. The Welsh winger is in his second spell in South Yorkshire after a relatively unsuccessful stint with Sheffield United three years ago.

After moving back north from Swansea to join Barnsley at the start of the year, he at last looks happy in the red and white hoops of Rovers.

Saturday’s strike was his fifth of the season, and was bettered only for quality by the goal he scored from inside his own half against Walsall on the opening day.

“In the circumstances today’s was probably more important because we were under a lot of pressure,” said Cotterill, 24, who is the club’s top scorer.

“That’s not something I’m used to because I’ve never hit double figures before so I’m definitely aiming for that.

“If I can get 10 goals by December or January then I can hopefully kick on from there.

“I think the boss’s favourite goal of mine was the one against Leyton Orient where it came off my shin, and I probably do need to get in the box more rather than just relying on world-class strikes.

“Hopefully there’s more to come. It’s something we desperately needed, because we were down and out. We got a bit of a pasting at half-time which we needed.”

They certainly deserved it after being completely over-run by a side who had failed to win away from home in the league.

Rovers were often the architects of their own downfall, particularly Shelton Martis whose sloppy back pass was nearly converted by Clayton Donaldson, the former York striker, who on another day could have had a hatful.

Kyle Bennett missed a glorious chance after cleverly working a position before Brentford’s roving midfielder Adam Forshaw caught Martis on the wrong side of the rampaging Douglas, who burst forward and cleverly lifted the ball over Woods with the outside of his foot.

Donaldson could have doubled the lead but for a superb tackle by Tommy Spurr, before Cotterill’s bolt from the blue and Paynter’s clever footwork and header.

But Saunders, who hopes to bring in a defender before tomorrow’s trip to Tranmere, admitted: “We are just papering over the cracks with that result. There’s still lots of work to do.

“Hopefully, we can keep winning while I sort it out.”

Doncaster Rovers: Woods, Quinn, Jones, Martis (Syers 56), Spurr; Cotterill, Harper, Ma Woods, Bennett; Hume (Blake 80), Brown (Paynter 63). Unused substitutes: Sullivan, Ball, Mi Woods, Keegan.

Brentford: Moore; Logan, Craig, Dean, Bidwell (Legge 59); Forshaw (O’Connor 72), Douglas, Diagouraga, Forrester; Donaldson, Adeyami (Dallas 79). Unused substitutes: Lee, Barron, Spencer, Hayes.

Referee: A Haines (Tyne & Wear).