DARREN Ferguson says the outlook is rosy for promotion-bound Doncaster Rovers after they moved a step closer to a League One return.
Last April Rovers were on their way to being relegated and were void of any confidence.
Fast forward 12 months and their latest victory, this 5-1 dismantling of Grimsby Town, has seen move within touching distance of promotion. Rovers need two more points to secure automatic promotion.
Ferguson said: “Last season was as low as it’s ever been for me as a manager.
“But the board have been great and there’s a different look and a different freshness to the club now.
“We need to finish the job off now.
“The place was stale and needed a massive lift.
“Hopefully the first part isn’t too far off now.”
John Marquis was the undoubted star of the show, hitting his maiden professional hat-trick in the space of 24 minutes.
Ferguson’s side started the brighter, in what was their first league trip to Blundell Park since 1990, but it was the hosts who took the lead through Sam Jones.
Jones, who grew up in Doncaster, drilled a shot into the net from inside the area on 34 minutes.
But it took Rovers just six minutes to turn the game on its head, thanks to two goals from Marquis.
First he nudged the ball past James McKeown from barely a few yards out.
The top scorer then made it 2-1 when he glanced a header home from an inswinging corner.
After the restart Marquis secured his treble - achieved in just 24 minutes - and made it 3-1 when he fired past James McKeown.
Andy Williams added a fourth on 79 minutes before Alfie May nudged a fifth goal over the line on 89 minutes.
Ferguson added: “It was a magnificent performance.
“Five goals away from home shows it’s been a very good day.
“It’s been a great day and we’re nearly there with promotion.”
Grimsby chief Marcus Bignot was understandably unhappy about the heavy loss.
He questioned whether the January sale of star striker Omar Bogle to Wigan is still affecting his side.
“I don’t like losing football matches and I’m not going to hide.
“Sam Jones has done great for us but I think there has been a knock-on effect from losing Omar Bogle in terms of our mentality.
“Is it about mentality and belief?
“I don’t know, but we can’t think to ourselves ‘Where are the goals going to come from?’
“I thought that we started really positively and we got ourselves ahead, but then we conceded almost immediately.
“John Marquis was left free in the box and that is nothing at all to do with systems or shapes.
“That is down to an individual mistake and we’ve been punished
Grimsby: McKeown, Mills, Comley, Osborne, Andrew, Dan Jones, Boyce, Gunning, Clements, Dyson, Sam Jones. Subs: Pearson, Disley, Vose, Bolarinwa, Collins, Yussuf, Maxwell.
Doncaster: Lawlor, Alcock, Baudry, Butler, Blair, McSheffrey, McCullough, Rowe, Mason, Marquis, Williams. Subs: Marosi, Middleton, Wright, Keegan, Longbottom, Evina, May.
Referee: Graham Scott (Oxfordshire)