DONCASTER ROVERS midfielder Kieran Sadlier believes the club’s impressive return to winning ways has sent out a clear message to the League One play-off chasing pack.
The 24-year-old netted the final goal in a 4-1 mauling of Bristol Rovers on Tuesday night, a result that ended Doncaster’s seven game winless run in the league.
It was enough to lift Grant McCann’s Rovers back into the top six, deposing Peterborough United in the process.
With Posh without a game this weekend owing to scheduled opponents Portsmouth’s involvement in the Checkatrade Trophy final, Doncaster host Walsall on Saturday knowing victory will open up a five-point gap on a side led by former manager Darren Ferguson.
“It was important to get back to winning ways,” said Sussex-born Sadlier, who moved to the Keepmoat Stadium in January from League of Ireland outfit Cork City.
“Every team has their dips and their bad spells. Hopefully, we have had ours and it is now out of the way. Against Bristol Rovers, it felt like we were back to controlling the game again.
“There will have been teams looking at our game, hoping that we would stumble.
“But this result sent a message that we are back to our best, even if I feel we can play even better. We got four goals and you can’t argue with that.
“We know we are capable of more. We have another big game coming up at home on Saturday. We all want the best out of each other, we have high standards and we will be confident heading into the weekend.”
Sadlier could be forgiven for feeling a tad fatigued right now.
His move to Rovers came just a month after the end of last season in Ireland, Sadlier netting from the penalty spot as the curtain came down on Cork’s season with a 2-1 defeat to Dundalk in the FAI Cup final.
It means he has more or less played solidly for 14 months, something that would cause burnout in most players.
Sadlier, however, has been handled carefully by the Doncaster coaching staff with his stunning 30-yard goal against Bristol Rovers on Tuesday coming on what was only his second league start.
“I knew I would not be in the team straight away when I came over,” said the midfielder, who has 11 league and Cup appearances for Rovers to his name.
We know we are capable of more. We have another big game coming up at home on Saturday. We all want the best out of each other, we have high standards and we will be confident heading into the weekend.Doncaster’s Kieran Sadlier
“I had already played 50-odd games, due to coming just off the back of a season in Ireland.
“I only had a few weeks to stop and then start again. That is quite hard.
“With the intensity, I had a few injuries I had never had before. I was also coming into a team bang in form with a lot of talented players. So, I have been happy with how things have gone.”
His exquisite finish in Tuesday’s triumph came after McCann had tweaked Doncaster’s formation as a response to last Saturday’s chastening 4-0 defeat at League One leaders Luton Town.
The shift worked well, with all three attacking midfielders in a 4-2-3-1 set-up getting on the scoresheet.
“We changed it slightly,” added Sadlier, whose goal came in the wake of James Coppinger netting twice in the first half before Malik Wilks made it 3-0.
“It was good. We controlled the game with the two holding midfielders and the three in front.
“When we lost the ball, we were able to get it back. The system also gives me licence to come from deep. Not a free role, but I can move around into little pockets – as long as I get back in defensively. I have been working hard on that in training.”
On Rovers’ returning to winning ways for the first time since Southend United had been beaten at the Keepmoat on February 12, Sadlier added: “We know ourselves how things have been recently, and especially in our last game (at Luton). But we played some good stuff and it was a great way to bounce back.
“We looked like we were back to our best and we need to keep that going into the next few games.”