Entertainment is at the heart of Darren Ferguson’s plan to maintain Doncaster Rovers’ unbeaten home record - which he thinks will start to play on opposition minds.
Rovers have yet to be beaten on home turf in League Two this season, a run that has garnered 18 points from eight matches.
Such form has put Ferguson’s squad in the automatic places with the first third of the campaign complete, though a record of just four wins from eight on the road has left a feeling of what might have been.
That record was in danger of a negative swing last weekend until Rovers overcame a goal deficit at struggling Exeter to return north with three points.
Ferguson left the south west coast upset at his squad’s application and demanded an improvement when back in front of home fans against Hartlepool.
The manager has defended his outburst stating that the Rovers performance was not befitting the support the club has received at the Keepmoat this season.
“I could sense last week that there was disappointment towards what they were seeing,” Ferguson added.
“That was probably part of my anger as well. It’s important that we entertain the supporters. They want the same thing at the end of the game, but I am conscious of the fact that we need to put in good performances – that’s how I always set my teams up.”
Tomorrow’s visitors have claimed three scalps on the road this season, but Ferguson said Rovers’ undefeated home stretch makes his side a different beast to conquer.
“We want to continue that for as long as we can,” the boss added. “The more you do it the more it gets into other people’s minds.”
Teenage forward Liam Mandeville came off the bench to inspire last week’s turnaround and Ferguson suggested the 19-year-old was at the forefront of selection plans for Hartlepool.
Ferguson added: “You just hope he kicks on now – whether that’s as an impact player again or from the start.
“There’s nothing better for a young player than for his team-mates to say to him, ‘you got us out of that’. You would like to think that will have given him more confidence.”
Should Mandeville get the nod, Ferguson will want his youngster to continue a new-found partnership with free-scoring midfielder John Marquis, who stretched his goalscoring record to nine with a brace on the south coast – both assisted by Mandeville.
Marquis has been a revelation since moving from Millwall in the summer and not just on the pitch. Ferguson revealed that the 24-year-old has taken centre stage in building team morale as well as results on the field.
“He’s lively all right,” smiled the boss. “He’s a bit of a joker, but I like him.
“Forget about the goals, he is exactly what we have needed at the club and around the dressing room.”
He added: “John has been a real catalyst for what we have wanted to do.
“He has grown up in an environment, being a Millwall player, (where) there’s no getting away from the fact that you need to do a shift or you will get grief.
“That’s one thing that really stuck in my mind. We knew we would get a hard-working lad.”