Rovers are right in the play-off mix

Richie Wellens
Richie Wellens
  • Donny battling for play-off position
  • Win over Colchester moved them to sixth in League One
  • Rovers boss Paul Dickov was signed twice by Grayson
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While Preston North End have their sights set on the teams above them, there is a battle raging below for a play-off slot.

Doncaster Rovers come to Deepdale having moved into sixth spot on Saturday thanks to a 2-0 win over Colchester.

Doncaster moved into sixth place at the weekend and will be keen to make the play-offs as they try to get back to the Championship.

They are the latest side to occupy that final play-off slot, with Bradford, Sheffield United, Oldham, Rochdale and Chesterfield having all been there in the last couple of months.

Three successive wins in the first half of February moved Donny towards the top six.

Defeats to Port Vale and Bristol City then dealt them a blow, before the Colchester game got them back on track.

North End manager Simon Grayson said: “It keeps fluctuating that last play-off place but without being disrespectful, it is not a position we are looking at.

“Doncaster moved into sixth place at the weekend and will be keen to make the play-offs as they try to get back to the Championship.

“It is tight around there, probably anyone from sixth down to 17th place have a good chance of making the play-offs.”

Grayson will be sharing the technical area with one of his former players in the shape of Donny boss Paul Dickov.

When in charge of both Blackpool and Leeds, Grayson signed Dickov.

“Paul is a good lad, he’s passionate and gets his teams playing in a certain way.

“It should be a good game – they play a different system to us so it is about who can come out on top in different areas.

“Doncaster have some good players, many with Championship experience.

“When you look through their squad they have Dean Furman, Richie Wellens, Nathan Tyson.

“Curtis Main is on loan to them from Middlesbrough and has scored goals.

“No matter who we play, we give the opposition every respect and will do that with Doncaster.

“But the focus is on what we do and how we perform.”

Doncaster’s victory over Colchester came courtesy of goals from Enda Stevens and a Tyson penalty.

Reflecting on the win, Dickov said: “I was pleased with the lads because they were patient in their build-up.

“Colchester are difficult to play against – they’re very disciplined without the ball.

“They get back into two banks of four and their two forwards drop into their own half. So patience was key for us.

“It’s quite hard to be patient at home sometimes because, myself included, the fans, everybody, wants you to get the ball up there and go and attack.

“I think we had something like 62 per cent of possession and 24 shots on goal.

“It’s okay having the possession but you’ve got to have attempts on goal within that as well. We had both sides.

“If there’s one criticism, we should have scored more because we created some really good chances.”

Dickov saw the Colchester win as getting back on track after two successive defeats.

“Two defeats in a week is never nice and it was imperative we won the game,” said Dickov.

“We wanted to get back on track not just in terms of results but also by keeping a clean sheet.

“That was important because we’ve conceded sloppy goals recently.”

Donny’s leading scorer is striker Tyson with 10 goals, eight of them in the league.

The former Nottingham Forest front man was on target in the 1-1 draw with North End at the Keepmoat Stadium in August.

Tyson struck with a 90th-minute equaliser after Chris Humphrey had given PNE the lead.

Striker partner Main has netted six league goals and two more in the FA Cup, while Kyle Bennett has supplied five from the wings.

Former Preston loanee Jamie McCombe will be in the Donny squad, the big centre-half having been on the bench on Saturday.

The experienced Stephen Bywater will be between the posts.

He was signed on loan from Millwall in January after Sam Johnstone was recalled by Manchester United in order to loan him out to Preston.

Johnstone played 14 games for Doncaster – that was his second spell with them after spending time at the Keepmoat last season.