Analysis: Scunthorpe United 1 Doncaster Rovers 1

You can never count this Doncaster Rovers team out.

Tuesday, 23rd January 2018, 10:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd January 2018, 10:05 pm
Mathieu Baudry

Even after their worst performance for some time, one with worrying defensive frailty, they manage to find a way of coming from behind. And to do so in a derby scenario makes the comeback all the more memorable.

A heavy defeat looked on the cards when Scunthorpe took the lead courtesy of Tom Hopper just three minutes in and Rovers were all over the place at the back.

Alfie Beestin.

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Even though they improved as the game wore on, it seemed as though they would make the short journey home empty handed.

But there was no accounting for a wonderful header from Alfie Beetin, deep into added time which rescued a scantly deserved point.

Credit is due: they do not know when they are beaten. But while the point is to be celebrated, the ultimate outcome should not paper over the cracks.

Starting slowly is a considerable problem that is holding Rovers back. And if this is life without Andy Butler, then they need to come up with a solution - and quick.

Alfie Beestin.

Not only was the centre half absent due to a knee injury, so was the composed defending Rovers have shown since before Christmas.

Haphazard, panicky, poor. Rovers were the architects of their own problems as they gave away plenty of openings to their neighbours and invited them on time after time.

With Butler ruled out for much of the rest of the season, Rovers simply must loosen the purse strings and act in the transfer market during the final week of the window to fill hole.

That is even more essential with doubts over Mathieu Baudry, who went off with a hamstring injury just 12 minutes in.

The lack of options was reflected by the presence on the bench of Danny Amos, who completed a full 90 minutes for the Development squad earlier in the day.

The game started at a breathless pace which Rovers struggled to handle. Scunthorpe swarmed forward with real pace and numbers, finding plenty of space and sparking plenty of panic in the Rovers back line.

The haphazard start turned disastrous when Scunthorpe went ahead just three minutes in.

Joe Wright allowed a long ball to drift over his head but Ian Lawlor was slow to react, which allowed Hopper to nip in and slot into an empty net.

The nerves did not settle and it took a brave block from Niall Mason to prevent Josh Morris from volleying home Hakeeb Adelakun’s cross.

Adelakun, operating in a free role behind the forwards, was a menace for a Rovers back line that seemed to have no answer to his pace and direct running.

Rovers were given a major let off midway through the half. Lawlor could not control a heavy backpass from Mason, allowing Hopper to round him again. As the two chased the ball to the byline, Hopper tumbled but referee Eddie Ilderton signalled for a goal kick.

As the half wore on, Rovers did begin to settle as the relentless Scunthorpe pressure subsided.

They began to see more of the ball in the opposition half and produced a decent passing move which saw Ben Whiteman test Rory Watson with a low drive.

Their possession helped even the contest but Scunthorpe were close to doubling their lead on the stroke of half time. Adelakun lofted a ball from the byline and Neal Bishop charged in, only to divert his header over the bar from close range.

The hosts came out strong for the second half and it needed good reactions from Lawlor to keep out a tricky free kick from Morris.

Clear cut chances for both sides were hard to come by in what became a back and forth affair in the second half.

Lawlor produced an excellent reaction save to keep out Hopper’s diving header while, at the other end, Whiteman forced an unconvincing stop from Watson with a low drive after an excellent break.

Substitute Cameron McGeehan drilled just wide from 25 yards as Scunthorpe looked to seal the game late on.

With eight minutes added on due to an apparently severe injury to Iron’s Neal Bishop, Rovers were buoyed.

It needed a timely block from Lee Novak to keep out Beestin.

Rovers had a the hosts firmly on the back foot, pinned deep in their own territory but Scunthorpe produced some nerveless defending to see out the final few minutes.

But they could not hold on long enough as Beestin leapt bravely to head home in front of the travelling support.

And Joe Wright produced an outstanding block to deny Novak to ensure their rallying efforts were not in vain.

Scunthorpe: Watson, Holmes, Goode, Burgess, Wallace, Adelakun, Bishop (McGeehan 63), Ojo, Morris, van Veen (Novak 72), Hopper (Toney 82). Subs not used: Kelsey, Townsend, Sutton, McArdle.

Rovers: Lawlor, Blair, Wright, Baudry (Alcock 12), Mason (Garratt 54), Houghton (Kongolo 81), Whiteman, Rowe, Coppinger, Beestin, Marquis. Subs not used: Marosi, Amos, Mandeville, May.

Referee: Eddie Ilderton (Tyne & Wear)

Attendance: 5,193