Doncaster Rovers began 2019 with an almost flawless victory against Rochdale which can scarcely be described in just 250 words.
Every Rovers player was outstanding throughout, but the opening goal was created by Mallik Wilks, whose superb individual performance really deserves an article of its own. In the very first minute, Wilks’ exquisite cross picked out an unmarked Alfie May at the back post; May duly guided a looping header over Magnus Norman to open the scoring and set the tone of the game.
Wilks tormented his opponents all afternoon, with one particular skilful burst towards the box past the Rochdale defence bringing a free-kick on the 22nd minute. Despite a difficult angle, Ali Crawford impressively whipped the dead-ball into the far top corner of the net.
Another less direct but equally effective set-piece routine brought Rovers’ third goal. Quick and incisive passing – emblematic of the team’s approach throughout the game – combined with clever movement from John Marquis, allowing the striker to head home.
Fifteen minutes from time Marquis added another goal as his firm shot slipped through Norman’s hands and in to the net.
James Coppinger then completed the scoring with a perfectly executed diving header from Matty Blair’s cross, making 2019 the fifteenth consecutive year that Coppinger has scored for Rovers – yet another remarkable achievement for a remarkable player.
This result moved Rovers in to the play-off places, and the accompanying magnificent performance certainly bodes well for the rest of the season.