Contrasting reaction after Doncaster encounters underlines the resolve of Portsmouth favourite Christian Burgess

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The opposition were the same – but the reaction Christian Burgess received could hardly have been any different. 

When Pompey met Doncaster last season at Fratton Park, the defender experienced one of the lowest moments of his career.

But after the Blues’ 2-1 victory at Rovers on Saturday, it must have been extra satisfying for him. 

Eight months and three days separated the encounters and both of Burgess’ performances garnered contrasting reactions from fans.

When Donny travelled to the south coast on February 2, the ex-Peterborough man was a bit-part player for Kenny Jackett’s side.

Matt Clarke and Jack Whatmough were Pompey’s established centre-back pairing, with Burgess not starting a league game since the previous October at Accrington.

Christian Burgess in action at Doncaster. Picture: Daniel Chesterton/PinPep

Christian Burgess in action at Doncaster. Picture: Daniel Chesterton/PinPep

However, he was called off the bench in the 29th minute when Jack Whatmough suffered his latest knee injury.

It was Burgess’ first appearance in League One for more than a month and he hadn’t been afforded the time to warm up or mentally prepare. 

Within seconds of being introduced, he was caught out. The centre-half misjudged a ball over the top, with Mallik Wilks profiting to hand Rovers the lead. 

After the final whistle, the League Two title winner suffered swathes of criticism on social media for his error.

Christian Burgess kicks the ball away following his mistake that led to Mallik Wilks scoring for Doncaster against Pompey last season. Picture: Joe Pepler

Christian Burgess kicks the ball away following his mistake that led to Mallik Wilks scoring for Doncaster against Pompey last season. Picture: Joe Pepler

The mistake arrived when quick-fire blunders against Shrewsbury and Wycombe earlier in the campaign were still fresh. 

In the aftermath, Kenny Jackett told the former Middlesbrough man to handle the pressure and flak of playing for Pompey.

And it’s fair to say he’s taken everything on the chin, with his response being outstanding. 

When the Blues travelled to the Keepmoat Stadium on Saturday, Burgess put in a shift that consisted of steel and grit

He was the stand-out performer in a rearguard that repelled a potent Doncaster attack that incessantly put the Blues under the pump. 

Burgil van Dijk was the moniker given to him for such an imperious display. 

In fact, in his subsequent 33 appearances since that Donny error last term, the 28-year-old has hardly put a foot wrong.

In the summer, Burgess yet again had to come through adversity.

Paul Downing and Sean Raggett were both earmarked to be Jackett’s central-defence partnership after arriving from Blackburn and Norwich respectively. 

But rather than sulk at the prospect of being pushed down the pecking order, Burgess let his performances thrust him into a more prominent role.

His displays this term, with three coming as a makeshift right-back, mean he’s now the first-choice centre-half, having operated alongside Downing, Oli Hawkins and now Raggett. 

When talking about the criticism he’s faced, Burgess told how footballers need a strong mentality to come through the tough times. 

And when juxtaposing his two displays against Doncaster, the resolve he’s shown has been immense.