McCann to draw on past play-offs to aid Doncaster

Grant McCann gives a thumbs up to Doncaster fans
Grant McCann won the play-offs three times as a player with three different clubs [Rex]

Grant McCann will call upon good and bad memories of play-off football to aid Doncaster Rovers' bid for promotion.

McCann was promoted three times via the play-offs, but suffered defeat at the semi-final stage in his only previous involvement as a manager.

His Doncaster side travel to Crewe Alexandra for the first leg of their League Two play-off on Monday, kick-off 17:15 BST.

Rovers are the form team heading into the game with 31 points from their last 11 regular season fixtures.

On 3 February, they were 22nd in the table, immediately above the relegation places - but they won 13 of their last 17 matches, including 10 in a row to equal a club record.

Now they aim to take that momentum with them for what they hope will be three games that lead to promotion.

McCann tasted glory with Cheltenham Town (2006), Scunthorpe United (2009) and Peterborough United (2011) - but he suffered semi-final defeat as boss of Doncaster on penalties to Charlton Athletic in League One in 2019.

So he has plenty of memories to call upon over the next few days.

Positive mentality

"When I think back to winning promotion as a player, we went in really positively," he told BBC Radio Sheffield.

"We weren't worried about the next leg or if we win this, we get to Wembley. We were focused on that game.

"When I look back to my first time here, I know myself I was a bit cautious going into that first leg.

"Maybe we were a bit cautious with the group, the way I was speaking, the way I was coaching and we probably showed that in the first leg where we never got going.

"The second leg, we got back to where I know we could play and put on a very good performance at Charlton.

"So you learn from your experiences and try to draw on them to do better in the future and that's what we're trying to do."

Rovers and opponents Crewe finished level on points and were separated by just a single goal over 46 games.

They were both relegated from League One in 2022 and have taken time to rebuild in the fourth tier.

Alex were in the top seven from more or less September onwards, but their form is rocky, having won only one of their last nine games.

However, manager Lee Bell believes his young squad deserves praise for getting to this stage.

He is playing the underdog card as he wants his players to "embrace" these next two games in search of a ticket to Wembley.

'Don't let occasion pass you by'

Crewe boss Lee Bell
A former academy player, Lee Bell has been in charge at Crewe since December 2022 [Rex]

"Nobody expected us to be in this position," Bell told BBC Radio Stoke.

"They might have expected Doncaster to be here, with the resources they have, but I'm extremely proud of the players and the staff.

"There is a different feel to these games, there's a real excitement, but what the players have to do is embrace it and take the challenge on.

"I liken it to when a tennis player gets to match point and the commentators say, 'they have tightened up'. We can't do that.

"Don't let this occasion pass you by and make sure you enjoy every moment of it."