Doncaster Rovers 1, Sheffield Wednesday 2: Owls still a work in progress with Ferguson the happier of two managers

GOAL....Winning Owls goal celebrations from Gary Hooper....Pic Steve Ellis
GOAL....Winning Owls goal celebrations from Gary Hooper....Pic Steve Ellis

So often in pre-season friendlies, it is the lower league manager that comes away the happier.

And despite Wednesday taking the win away from the Keepmoat on Tuesday night, Rovers boss Darren Ferguson will have taken more heart from his side’s performance than opposite number Carlos Carvalhal.

GOAL....Winning Owls goal from Gary Hooper celebrates with Marco Matias....Pic Steve Ellis

GOAL....Winning Owls goal from Gary Hooper celebrates with Marco Matias....Pic Steve Ellis

It did not look set to be that way over the first half hour, a period which the Owls thoroughly dominated and made the obvious gulf in class between the two teams all too apparent.

But Rovers - watched on by their boss’ father Sir Alex - responded superbly to really take the game to Wednesday and cause more than a few nervy moments of their own.

As each manager wakes up on Thursday morning to assess their side’s progress, Ferguson will have a clearer idea of what his side will be capable of in the coming campaign.

The swift passing and incisiveness of the previous campaign was on show and caused problems for a much more star packed side.

Sheffield Wednesday's forward Gary Hooper (14) scores.

Picture by Stephen Buckley/AHPIX.com.

Sheffield Wednesday's forward Gary Hooper (14) scores. Picture by Stephen Buckley/AHPIX.com.

While Wednesday ensured they stayed unbeaten in pre-season friendlies, they still look much more of a work in progress.

Carvalhal again made sweeping changes in the second half, no closer to giving members of his squad a full 90 minutes with only Sunday’s clash with Rangers coming before the start of the season.

Sam Winnall’s deft header gave Wednesday the lead but Liam Mandeville scored his sixth goal in five pre-season games to draw Rovers level shortly before the break.

Gary Hooper grabbed the winner for the Owls in the second half with a brilliant lob and finish.

Sheff Wed's Gary Hooper rounds Doncaster's keeper Marko Marosi to score

- pic Andrew Roe.

Sheff Wed's Gary Hooper rounds Doncaster's keeper Marko Marosi to score - pic Andrew Roe.

Keiren Westwood returned to the Wednesday line-up following a knee injury while Glenn Loovens made his first appearance of pre-season on the bench after a hamstring problem.

For Rovers, it was undoubtedly their toughest examination of pre-season.

It gave them something they did not have as they powered to promotion from League Two last term - namely, a game where they were thoroughly on the back foot.

In the early stages, they seemed to struggle with it. Wednesday pressed very well, not giving Doncaster time on the ball and it caused plenty of panic.

When the hosts had possession, they were quickly under pressure, resulting in numerous misplaced passes and a general struggle to get out of their own half.

Wednesday were dominant, looking sharp, playing quick and neat passes that helped them camp in the opposition half.

Fernando Forestieri gave Matty Blair a torrid time on the left and drew plenty of last ditch blocks and tackles from the Rovers defence.

Tommy Rowe was forced to head off the line from Tom Lees’ looping header while Andy Butler headed against his own bar after Forestieri’s driven cross caused panic.

And it took a vital interception by Blair to prevent Forestieri from slotting away Steven Fletcher’s fine pass into the box.

Just as Rovers began to settle into the game, Wednesday took the lead on the half hour and it was all too easy.

Wallace cut back and swung in a cross which Winnall ghosted onto and flicked a header past Marosi, who was stuck to the spot.

To Rovers’ credit, they were not cowed by falling behind and continued to force their way into the game.

They began to see much more of the ball in the opposition half and found particular success in the wide areas.

They levelled the game up two minutes before the break. Danny Andrew dummied Sam Hutchinson on the left and delivered a superb cross which Mandeville charged onto and sent a fine header beyond Keiren Westwood.

The tip in the balance of the game continued after the re-start with Rovers pushing hard into the Wednesday half and played with much more freedom than they had in the first period.

Rowe almost flicked in Andrew’s testing free kick to the near post as they threatened to take the lead.

But there was a harsh reminder of the true difference in quality as Wednesday restored their lead on 66 minutes.

A fine moment of vision and an excellent run helped put Wednesday back in front. Bannan lofted a fine ball over the Rovers defence which substitute Hooper raced onto, lobbed Marosi and tapped into an empty net.

Wednesday would go on to finish the game the stronger, certainly the more energetic. Carvalhal’s plentiful changes helped in that department with Tom Lees the only outfield player handed a full 90 minutes.

Bannan, Marco Matias and George Boyd in particular gave the Owls a fresh edge.

Matias could easily have extended the lead for the visitors late in proceedings. He latched onto a brilliant through ball and flicked an effort beyond Marosi only to see it come back off the post.

And Boyd drew a fine save from the Rovers keeper after finding space in the box.

Rovers: Marosi, Blair, Alcock, Butler, Andrew, Mason, Whiteman, Rowe (Ben Khemis 63), Coppinger, Marquis, Mandeville. Subs not used: Ogley, McSheffrey, Walker, Fielding, Fletcher, Scattergood.

Wednesday: Westwood, Palmer (Hunt 46), Lees, Pudil (Loovens 72), Fox (Reach 57), Wallace (Boyd 73), Hutchinson (Jones 57), Abdi (Bannan 57), Forestieri (Matias 46), Winnall (Hooper 46), Fletcher (Nuhiu 61). Subs not used: Wildsmith, Dawson, Murphy, Rhodes, Joao, Thorniley.

Referee: Darren England (Yorkshire)

Attendance: 7366 (3971 away)