ALTHOUGH the national spotlight did not showcase Doncaster Rovers at their best on Sunday it has been a different story on the derby stage so far in 2018-19.
After failing in their quest to reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup for the first time in their history following a 2-0 home loss to Crystal Palace in front of the Match of the Day cameras, Rovers resume League One business at near-neighbours Scunthorpe United in the M180 derby tomorrow – seeking another boost at the Iron’s expense.
Manager Grant McCann’s side knocked their near-neighbours out of the Carabao Cup with a 2-1 triumph in August and followed up with a 3-0 league success at the Keepmoat Stadium in December.
Rovers also took the bragging rights in a comfortable 2-1 home win over Bradford City in the autumn and produced a dominant display in a 1-1 draw at Barnsley when, by common consent, they were unfortunate not to take three points.
McCann, who is eyeing another derby fillip, has not given up hope of a top-two League One finish despite his side being 13 points behind second-placed Barnsley – albeit with two games in hand. He said: “The derby games have been good.
“I sat beside a couple of ex-Barnsley players at the game on Tuesday in Bobby (Hassell) and Martin (Devaney) and they were saying that we were the best team that Barnsley have played at Oakwell this season. So that was a compliment in itself.
“We know we were not even at our best that day. We can get better and there is always a lot of improvement to do.
“We are aiming, as always, for the stars. We still do not think that we cannot reach the top two.”
Loan winger Mallik Wilks is back in the frame for Rovers after missing Sunday’s glamour Cup tie due to suspension – which only came to light at the 11th hour – and McCann is backing the 20-year-old to produce a positive reaction after his untimely absence.
McCann added: “Mallik was a miss for us because it was probably the first time this season that we have had three very good games in a row out of him – and he would say so himself. He had scored two goals in three games heading into the FA Cup game and was in good form. He still is as he played in an Under-23 game on Tuesday and scored.
“He is a pleasure to work with every day and we are delighted to have him back.”