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On Saturday, Doncaster Rovers faced MK Dons, seeking to record a first win in four Sky Bet League One games. However, Ferguson’s side could not have made a worse start to the match as Chuks Aneke gave The Dons the lead after just three minutes. Neilson’s side progressed from here, playing at a real tempo and creating a number of chances. Rovers, on the other hand, performed questionably and were lucky to reach the half-time break with the score at only 1-0.
Nevertheless, Ferguson’s side returned for the second-half in determined spirit and The Dons were soon left ruing their missed chances. First, forward John Marquis flicked the ball past ‘keeper Lee Nicholls to score Rovers’ equaliser, then midfielder Matty Blair slotted home to give Ferguson’s side the lead. Rovers defended resiliently from here, remaining stead-fast to secure an important victory.
Whilst it was Marquis and Blair who scored the goals for Ferguson’s side, the performance of 20 year-old Alfie Beestin warrants much credit: the attacking-midfielder entered the game as a half-time substitute and played a significant role in Rovers’ second-half turnaround.
Instantly, Beestin provided a supporting presence for Marquis and caused problems for the MK Dons defence with his impressive work-rate. Nine minutes later, the 20 year-old met Coppinger’s out-swinging corner, seeing his goal-bound header assist Marquis. And, Beestin assisted again seventeen minutes later when his flick fell to Blair.
Beestin joined Rovers in August 2016 after impressing Ferguson during a trial period, moving from York College’s i2i Football Development Centre. The attacking midfielder enjoyed much success at the Academy (which has also produced Leeds United’s Ronaldo Vieira), highlighting his spell with a goal-scoring performance in the English Colleges FA National Cup Final at Birmingham City’s St Andrews.
During his first season with Ferguson’s side, the 20 year-old found his chances limited, accumulating just 50 minutes of Sky Bet League Two action. Nevertheless, Beestin was a regular for Rovers in the Checkatrade Trophy, making a goal-scoring debut during a Group Stage match at Mansfield.
This season, the attacking-midfielder has continued his role as a Checkatrade Trophy regular and already featured more in Rovers’ league games than in the whole of last season. And, if Beestin can build on the positive showing displayed against MK Dons, he will soon become a first-team regular. Ferguson has high hopes for the 20 year-old and there are few managers better than the Scotsman when it comes to developing young players. See Dwight Gayle and George Boyd, for example.
Finding a long-term replacement for James Coppinger will certainly not be easy, although he may well lie much closer to home than expected: no pressure, Alfie.