Herbie Kane has revealed how a squad decision not to get distracted by Sunday’s glamour FA Cup tie with Crystal Palace helped Doncaster Rovers push the accelerator pedal on their promotion charge.
Rovers have picked up seven points from a possible nine since being drawn to face Premier League opposition on their first foray into the last 16 of the famous old competition in six decades.
The fact the BBC cameras will be broadcasting the tie nationally has added an extra incentive to Sunday’s occasion, all of which might have seen some at Doncaster take their eye off the main priority of earning a League One play-off place.
But as was proven once again on Tuesday night, that was not the case, as after earning a point at automatic-promotion challengers Portsmouth and swatting aside old boss Darren Ferguson and Peterborough on Saturday, Rovers maintained their momentum with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Southend United.
“The Palace game is in the back of your mind, but we knew how big a game Southend was and that was our main focus,” said on-loan Liverpool midfielder Kane, who scored one and made another on Tuesday night as Rovers strengthened their hold on sixth place.
“We made sure this was the focus and not the game on Sunday, because our main goal is winning promotion. It wasn’t just (manager) Grant (McCann) either, it was the players, because we know how important Tuesday’s game was so everyone as a squad made sure this was the only thing we were focusing on.”
And that attitude earned praise from McCann who admitted afterwards that in the lead-up to Tuesday night’s game he had a bad feeling his side would slip up.
McCann later apologised to his players for doubting them, and added: “As much as I’ve played the Crystal Palace game down, and I’ve tried to play it down a lot, it’s a huge game for us and huge game for the football club.
“It would have been easy to get distracted because it’s such a big game on Sunday. But I don’t think we did that.
“Their mindset to win and go and win again is outstanding. Their focus was brilliant.
The Palace game is in the back of your mind, but we knew how big a game Southend was and that was our main focus.Herbie Kane
“As soon as we finish a game we analyse it and then move on to the next one, and the boys have done that really well this season.”