Doncaster challenged to bounce back with derby win

RICHIE WELLENS is challenging Doncaster Rovers to propel themselves firmly into the League One play-off picture in the next two games – and make up for Tuesday’s FA Cup disappointment at Bristol City.

Richie Wellens.
Richie Wellens.

Rovers missed out on a lucrative televised home cup date with West Ham United on Sunday week after going down 2-0 at Ashton Gate, but the Keepmoat Stadium outfit shouldn’t dwell on the setback, according to Wellens.

Paul Dickov’s side may be just below mid-table in 14th spot in League One, but are only five points off the play-off positions and with back-to-back home games with Barnsley and Notts County coming up, Rovers have the opportunity to put pressure on the likes of Sheffield United and Bradford City, who occupy the final two play-off spots.

Wellens said: “The top four look like they have gone, but fifth and sixth spots look like they are available and after a disappointment like Tuesday, it is good to play a local derby with a good crowd there.

“Barnsley, like us, will be looking to kick on for the rest of the season.

“We were not at our best and had problems in the first part of the season, but if we can get a few wins, we can start looking upwards as I don’t think the threat of relegation is there.

“If we can win the next two games, we are maybe looking at seventh or eighth position and that would be right on the coattails of the top six.

“The teams from probably fifth to 15th will be thinking they can complete for the last two play-off spots as it is quite tight at the moment.”

Rovers’ cup defeat was their first in six matches in all competitions and Wellens believes that, despite the result, they can take positives despite Tuesday’s unfortunate exit, with ex-Rovers loanee Jay Emmanuel-Thomas netting a brace.

Wellens said: “I thought we started the game really well and finished the half well and the second half was all us.

“The manager made a brave substitution going three up front and we dominated for more or less all of the half, although we did leave ourselves susceptible to the counter-attack and they caught us on a breakaway.”

Meanwhile, ex-Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Stephen Bywater is set to train with Rovers over the next two days – and is being lined up to fill the void following the departure of Sam Johnstone to Preston.

The 33-year-old has left Millwall by mutual consent.