Irresistible Doncaster gave Grimsby a 5-1 pasting
JOHN Marquis’ first hat-trick in the EFL moved Doncaster to the brink of an instant return to League One as Grimsby were ruthlessly dispatched.
Barring an historically catastrophic collapse, table-topping Rovers will be promoted, as they now lie 16 points ahead of fourth-place Stevenage with just 18 left to play for.
Last April, Donny were on their way to being relegated to the fourth tier for the first time since 2004 but fast forward 12 months and they look a different side, as proven by this dismantling of Grimsby.
If other results had gone their way, they would have been mathematically promoted on Saturday but boss Darren Ferguson admits the outlook is rosy regardless.
“Last season was as low as it’s ever been for me as a manager,” said Ferguson. “But the board have been great and there’s a different look and a different freshness to the club.
“We need to finish the job off now. The place was stale and needed a massive lift. Hopefully that isn’t too far off.”
Marquis was the star of the show, hitting his maiden professional hattrick in the space of 24 minutes.
Donny started the brighter but it was the hosts who took the lead through Sam Jones.
Jones, who grew up in Doncaster, drilled a shot into the net from in the area on 34 minutes.
But it took Rovers just six minutes to turn the game on its head – thanks to two goals from Marquis.
First he nudged the ball past goalkeeper James McKeown from a few yards out before glancing in a header from Gary McSheffrey’s corner.
The prolific marksman secured his treble by calmly slotting Tommy Rowe’s through-ball into the bottom corner, Andy Williams cut inside and blasted home on 79 minutes before Alfie May bundled in a fifth from close-range.
Ferguson added: “It was a magnificent performance. Five goals away from home shows it has been a very good day.
“We’re nearly there with promotion. There was an edge to the game, and there was a good atmosphere but they just could not live with us.”
Grimsby chief Marcus Bignot was understandably unhappy about the heavy loss and believes the January sale of star striker Omar Bogle to Wigan is still affecting his side.
“I don’t like losing football matches and I’m not going to hide it,” said Bignot.
“Sam Jones has done great for us but there has been a knock-on effect from losing Omar in terms of our mentality.
“Is it about mentality and belief ? I don’t know, but we can’t think to ourselves ‘where are the goals going to come from?’
“At th e other end, John Marquis was left free in the box. That is an individual mistake and we’ve been punished.”
TREBLE BREWING: Doncaster Rovers forward John Marquis completes his hat-trick to make it 3-1. Inset: He bags his second STAR MAN JOHN MARQUIS Doncaster