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Doncaster Rovers 0 Saints 2
FOOTBALL can sometimes leave you slightly baffled – but when it goes your way you just keep your head down and don’t complain.
That will certainly be the approach of Jan Poortvliet after his side defeated Doncaster.
It was a desperately needed win, not just for the league table but in the context of Saints’ season.
After a shaky start to the campaign in terms of results, and on the back of a bad Carling Cup defeat at Rotherham, suddenly things look like they’re closing in.
The Championship fixture list is a strange beast.
When you’re doing well every game looks winable; when you are short on confidence, the same set of fixtures can leave you wondering when you’ll next win.
A decent, battling display from Saints but they have played far better and lost this season. The three points was crucial, though, and now gives them a platform to build on. If they can make this a good week, things are back on track.Adam Leitch
The upcoming double header against Norwich and Coventry is no exception.
After a win away from home, both of those games look like matches that could yield points.
A defeat at Doncaster and they would have seemed very hard.
The baffling thing for Poortvliet in terms of this second away league win of the season is that his team have played far better and lost.
Saints put in a fairly ordinary performance at Doncaster.
On another day, they might have conceded the first goal and gone on to lose.
But this was obviously their day.
The funny thing is, that is a refreshing feeling.
It’s one thing getting beaten regularly if you are being outplayed and you’re just not good enough.
But Saints this season have been on the wrong side of results when they could have got so much more.
That is so so frustrating.
Poortvliet will need to try and work out what the magic formula was and stick to it.
No doubt playing Andrew Surman in midfield helped.
After a bit of time to settle back in, he looks far more comfortable and indeed effective further up the pitch than at left back.
Whilst Surman can undoubtedly do you a job at left back, he has so much more to offer – and in truth with Saints’ squad, they cannot spurn that kind of quality.
Also having the experience of Paul Wotton in the team on a regular basis will stand them in good stead.
He has proved himself to be a real leader for the team, very vocal, very strong, really just what a young side needs.
There were plenty of chances in the first half at the Keepmoat Stadium and Saints, yet again, had Kelvin Davis to thank for some great saves.
His first came early on when Jason Price got through one-on-one while his second was truly exceptional.
Darren Byfield was allowed a ridiculous amount of time and space in the area to arrow a header towards the bottom corner.
But Davis dived full length to his right to get fingertips on it and turn it wide before another stop at the feet of Price.
Saints weren’t without their own good chances in the first half but it was poor finishing rather than good goalkeeping that did for them.
David McGoldrick had three pretty good opportunities but missed the target completely twice and put another straight at Neil Sullivan.
Adam Lallana was another guilty party. Allowed a free header six yards out, he put it somehow wide of the goal.
McGoldrick made amends for his earlier misses by creating the first goal five minutes into the second period.
Surman played the ball into him and McGoldrick showed great strength to hold off two challenges before firing low and hard across the face of goal.
The ball just hit the unfortunate Matthew Mills and went in for an own goal.
Saints suddenly looked full of confidence whilst Doncaster were in retreat.
They needed a second goal and got it just eight minutes later.
Richie Wellens dived into a needless challenge through the back of Lallana and referee Mike Russell awarded a penalty.
Surman stepped up and sent Sullivan the wrong way.
Davis had a few more routine saves to make but Doncaster had run out of ideas and were just pumping the ball long.
Saints were awarded another penalty, this time Surman being brought down by a trip from behind by Sam Hird.
Surman went the same way but this time Sullivan guessed correctly and dived to his left to save.
James Hayter went close for Doncaster in the closing seconds, but by then the game had gone.
It may not have been a great Saints performance, but we should be pleased for a great Saints result.