Doncaster Rovers 1 Wrexham 0: All-round team performance and benchmark win raise hopes for next season

When you get followed around by the sort of circus that follows Wrexham around, teams tend to take extra satisfaction in beating you, but for Doncaster Rovers there was more to it than that.

Seemingly bound for League One despite their 1-0 defeat in South Yorkshire, Phil Parkinson's side are a benchmark for where Rovers want to be – and in truth hoped they would be by now.

They took their time gelling after last summer's overhaul but since February they have looked the real deal – better than any other team in the fourth tier despite being hidden away in lower mid-table.

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A fifth straight win shows patience is paying off and that Grant McCann's side have a platform to be genuine promotion contenders next season. After years of thin gruel, it is about time.

Turning it on in front of their biggest league crowd of the season – helped by 2,230 travelling fans – they played with an assurance and quality that will have lifted the spirits of those who turned out to support them. Matthew Craig, Luke Molyneux, Harrison Biggins and James Maxwell all showed quality above their station but in truth the star performances were scattered across the team right until Timothee Lo-Tutala’s outstanding save in the seventh added minute.

The first half was not exactly overloaded with shots at goal but just for Owen Bailey to score with the first one to hit the target felt like fair reward for the way in-form Doncaster had played.

Spreading their midfielders to deal with Wrexham's wing-backs and largely keeping their front three tightly together, they passed the ball confidently out from the back and probed away throughout.

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Hakeeb Adelakun shot wide early on and Molyneux showed his willingness to run at men when he peeled out wide, putting in a cross that should not have got to Maxime Biamou, but his effort was blocked anyway.

GOAL: Owen Bailey heads Doncaster Rovers in frontGOAL: Owen Bailey heads Doncaster Rovers in front
GOAL: Owen Bailey heads Doncaster Rovers in front

It took a good block by Eoghan O'Connell to deny Molyneux when Adelakun fed him after a nice turn.

A 12th-minute shot by McCann's former Hull City midfielder Andy Cannon signalled that Wrexham had joined the game too. Ollie Palmer headed wide when a free-kick bounced around the Rovers' penalty area.

Elliot Lee shot over when Doncaster failed to clear a free-kick Maxwell daftly conceded by literally taking matters into his own hands to stop play without Charles Breakspear's say-so. It earned him a booking.

He would soon make amends, though.

HOLDING ROLE: Doncaster Rovers forward Hakeeb Adelakun keeps Luke Bolton at bayHOLDING ROLE: Doncaster Rovers forward Hakeeb Adelakun keeps Luke Bolton at bay
HOLDING ROLE: Doncaster Rovers forward Hakeeb Adelakun keeps Luke Bolton at bay
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First Molyneux put in an excellent delivery Biamou stabbed wide before it was the left-back's turn to load the bullets.

A long ball released Biamou in the 44th minute and although Max Cleworth initially outmuscled him, the striker refused to give up and nicked the ball back. it was worked to Maxwell for a gorgeous deep cross Bailey guided inside the post.

Doncaster looked stronger, Wxreham tired, in the second half but Rovers kept the drama alive by failing to take any of their many chances until

Twice in quick succession Wrexham were forced to make crucial blocks.

TRUYING HIS LUCK: Maxime Biamou gets a shot in for Doncaster RoversTRUYING HIS LUCK: Maxime Biamou gets a shot in for Doncaster Rovers
TRUYING HIS LUCK: Maxime Biamou gets a shot in for Doncaster Rovers
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The first came after Jamie Sterry's lovely ball played Harrison Biggins in for an effort he dropped onto the crossbar, Rovers kept the visitors hemmed in from the corner until O'Connell had to clear Baimou's effort off the line.

Cannon did the same from a Maxwell effort in the 53rd minute, although the Rovers man was convinced he did so with his hand.

Arthur Okonkwo had to furiously backpedal to stop an Adelakun cross dropping in at the far post and Richard Wood produced a lovely volley on the turn which the keeper had to save.

Adelakun poked wide when he ought to have hit the target as Baimou's knockdown diverted a Biggins ball to him.

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He put another chance wide on the stretch after a lovely tough brought Molyneux inside to pick him out with an equally good ball.

Minutes earlier the winger's curling shot had forced a save.

Wrexham finally came on strong late on but Rovers were able to withstand it.

Paul Mullin hit a free-kick into the defensive wall and had a goal disallowed for offside.

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If captain Wood's departure, staggering off nursing his head and his shoulder – he would not entertain the stretcher brought on for him – to make way for a concussion substitute in the sixth added minute seemed to sum up Doncaster's spirit, Lo-Tutala's outstanding stretching save from Steven Fletcher seconds later was hugely important.

This was a performance of skill as well as spirit – it was the sort of display that will have supporters eagerly awaiting next season. It was no wonder so many stayed to clap the team off in between chanting McCann’s name.

"You Ain’t See Nothing Yet” the stadium DJ played as they filed out. Fingers crossed he is right.

Doncaster Rovers: Lo-Tutala; Sterry, Olowu, Wood (McGrath 90+6), Maxwell; Bailey, Biggins (Rowe 78), Craig (Westbrooke 86); Molyneux, Biamou (Ironside 68), Adelakun.

Unused substitutes: Broadbent, Jones, Hurst.

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Wrexham: Okonkwo; Cleworth (Tozer 90+3), O'Connell (Daley 83), Boyle (Evans 61); Bolton (Barnett HT), O'Connor, Cannon, Lee, McClean; Palmer (Fletcher 61), Mullin.

Unused substitutes: McFadzean, Howard.

Referee: C Breakspear (Surrey).

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