Monday analysis: Doncaster Rovers 2 Nottingham Forest 2

Doncaster's Theo Robinson gets past Forest's Jack Hobbs to set up the goa. Picture: Andrew Roe/AHPIX LTD.
Doncaster's Theo Robinson gets past Forest's Jack Hobbs to set up the goa. Picture: Andrew Roe/AHPIX LTD.

Paul Dickov’s reputation - as something of a pest on the touchline, a bit of a ranter and raver - often precedes him.

But Doncaster’s up-and-coming boss is quickly proving he’s not just all about the hot air that bellows from his technical area.

Behind his somewhat aggressive front, and the almost constant snarling at any official in sight, a deep-thinking, dynamic, bold young manager is emerging.

Dickov is not the sort of person who is going to die wondering. He’s not one to play it safe.

In the build-up to Saturday’s visit of a Forest side quite rightly tipped to be challenging for the top two, Dickov made all the right noises about becoming harder to beat.

“If you can’t win it, don’t lose it,” he said, as he blamed a ‘naivety’ for the home defeats to Blackpool, Leeds and then Bournemouth.

Only then, those cautionary words were tempered by a team selection designed to take the game to Forest.

There was to be no fear, no sitting back from Dickov’s Doncaster. It almost worked a treat.

Federico Macheda was the main beneficiary of Dickov’s adventurous game-plan, which saw him unleash the on-loan Manchester United striker alongside targetman Chris Brown and ever-willing runner Theo Robinson, with Richie Wellens also playing in a more advanced role for good measure.

Dickov’s positivity, and how he reflects that in his flexible approach to systems, selections and substitutions, is becoming his new trademark. It gave Rovers fans something to shout about too, during an enthralling contest at the Keepmoat.

Macheda rewarded his manager’s ambition with a double on his home debut, popping up in the right place at the right time twice to sweep home assists from Robinson and Wellens.

An impressive Forest outfit twice cancelled out Macheda’s goals, with stunning strikes from Chris Cohen and Andy Reid.

But the threat that Doncaster’s almost four-pronged attack posed could, and perhaps should, have claimed all three points, as Robinson wasted a glorious chance to kill the game at 2-1.

Dickov’s attacking ploy appeared slightly dubious during the early exchanges as Billy Davies’ men quickly imposed themselves on Rovers, popping the ball around nonchalantly and testing Ross Turnbull from distance, first from Reid and then Jamie Mackie.

The visitors’ attacking intent arguably played into Doncaster’s hands though - and led to Rovers’ opener which came slightly against the run of play.

Rovers’ best football has come away from home again this season, against sides who have come out of their shell and allowed Dickov’s men more space to play.

And Forests’ positive approach of their own restricted the home side to playing mainly on the counter attack, like an away team, during a fast and frenetic first half.

Davies’ side had been warned. Wellens, pulling all the strings as per usual, quickly released Brown down the right but his cross was cut out before it reached Robinson who had galloped to the near post area.

Shortly after the half hour mark, Rovers broke quickly from half way again. Wellens volleyed it through for Robinson who did well to lay it perfectly into the path of Macheda who timed his appearance in the box to perfection and stroked it past Karl Darlow with aplomb.

Sadly for Rovers, the lead lasted just five minutes. The industrious Reid picked up possession at the by-line, laid it back for Cohen, who unleashed an unstoppable drive into the roof of Turnbull’s net from the angle.

Rovers, and Macheda in particular, started the second period with a spring in their step.

After sending in a teasing centre across the face, he was on hand again to round off another incisive break, tapping home from six yards after Wellens laid it on a plate.

Short of match fitness, Macheda’s work was done as James Coppinger replaced him on 69 minutes.

By that point Forest were dominating again - and there could be few arguments when Reid unleashed another stunning 20-yard strike into the top corner.

Substitute Jamie Paterson ought to have won it for Forest, missing horribly from three yards out after a perfect cross from Matt Derbyshire.

However, fortune favoured the brave on this occasion - Dickov’s Doncaster were decent value for a draw.