Doncaster v Blackpool: positive starts

Whiteman impressing – thestar.co.uk

The path these clubs have trodden over the last half a decade are almost symmetrical. Since meeting on the opening day of the 13/14 Championship season, both clubs then suffered relegation from this division in 15/16 but returned at the first attempt.

They look stronger for the experience. Blackpool performed well at big boys Bradford on the opening day and applied a lot of pressure, but lost narrowly. The following week, they put in another impressive performance, this time against MK Dons, Sean Longstaff’s 6th minute debut goal rewarding that display with a 1-0 win.

The Newcastle loanee received praise for his performance and adds to a group of young, attacking talent. Another loanee, Viv Solomon-Otabor, has caught the eye since joining from Birmingham and Bright Osayi-Samuel continues to win admirers.

The latter, who has been moved from the wing to a second striker role, will hope on Saturday to escape the clutches of Benjamin Whiteman. The Sheffield United loanee starts at the base of the diamond for his playmaking qualities from deep and has played well against Gillingham and Blackburn.

The usual suspects, John Marquis and James Coppinger, got off the mark in that 3-1 win at Ewood Park, but the improved second half was partly down to the introduction of a less familiar name. Thanks to a full pre-season, Alfie May’s athleticism came to the fore, hassling Blackburn’s back-line and getting his rewards with the third goal.

Donny have not scored a single goal without May on the field this season, but six in 135 minutes with him present – the equivalent of four goals per game. Darren Ferguson must be tempted to pair him with Marquis on Saturday and try to pin back Curtis Tilt and Clark Robertson.

Tilt though has started well at this level – having not played a single Football League match two weeks ago – alongside the more experienced Robertson. Doncaster’s centre-back pairing though, Joe Wright and Andy Butler, have also impressed early on as both clubs threaten to continue their resurgence.

The Football Lab’s Verdict: 2-1