Match analysis and highlights: What does it feel like to play for Doncaster Rovers right now?
Imagine getting up on a morning and not having any work shirts ironed or washed.
You then get in the car and you’re stuck in traffic for hours.
Finally you land in the office, only to be greeted by a mountain of paperwork.
And when you eventually come to clocking off, you realise there’s no food in the fridge at home.
That’s pretty much what it feels like to play for Doncaster Rovers at the moment. Always behind. Always playing catch-up.
For the NINTH successive game, and 11th time out of the last 12 matches, Rovers conceded the opening goal at Bradford City on Saturday.
Like at Scunthorpe last Tuesday, it took just seven minutes before Thorsten Stuckmann was picking the ball out of the net after the opposition’s first real effort on goal. Jamie Proctor was the beneficiary of some charitable defending to head the Bantams into an early lead. He later doubled their advantage with a much defter headed finish.
Understandable then, perhaps, that for 85 minutes at the Coral Windows Stadium, Darren Ferguson’s troubled side looked like one with the weight of the world on their shoulders. That feeling of always being behind, always losing the battle, is bound to take its toll on mind and body. And it did. Rovers barely laid a glove on the Bantams. They looked completely bereft of belief, ideas and ingenuity.
Despite the obvious psychological issues currently facing Rovers, another abject performance - one lacking any sort of goal threat, concerted period of pressure or sustained controlled possession - was nonetheless no less shocking to watch for the small band of Rovers fans who had risen above the ticket price fiasco surrounding this fixture to offer some much-needed support to their confidence-stricken team.
That was until the final few minutes, anyway, when Rovers were thrown a late lifeline by Nathan Tyson’s goal - their first for four games - and suddenly looked like a different side.
For three minutes of stoppage time, which is more than what they managed at Scunthorpe, Rovers were first to loose balls and putting a Bantams defence who had otherwise been operating on cruise control all afternoon under some serious pressure. Stuckmann was up for a couple of late corners and their was genuine panic from an otherwise dominant home side.
It was far too little, too late from a Doncaster perspective. But their late rally did at least indicate that they have not given up the ghost just yet. That there is still some fight left in them, despite the hits they have taken since the turn of the year. And if and when they can score first in a game, that might just be the cue for Rovers to pick themselves up and fight back.
From the moment Proctor headed his side in front to just a few minutes before Tyson’s strike, Doncaster produced precious little for those travelling fans to get even remotely excited about.
They actually started the game quite brightly, with Conor Grant, who later in the first half went off injured, and Tyson at least trying their luck from distance.
But a really slack bit of play from Aaron Taylor-Sinclair in the left back position gifted possession to the impressive Billy Clarke, whose cross was met appreciatively by Proctor.
From that point Bradford began to boss things and, with their confidence levels on the floor, Rovers seemed incapable of wrestling back any initiative whatsoever.
Proctor might have doubled the lead midway through the half after good work from Kyel Reid, before Josh Cullen flashed an effort wide and Tony McMahon curled a free kick just over on the stroke of half time.
A brilliant cross from left back James Meredith was expertly flicked home by Proctor four minutes after the re-start to make the scoreline more fairly reflect Bradford’s dominance.
Tails up, they went for the throat. McMahon volleyed over and Clarke hit one just wide before being denied by the legs of Stuckmann.
The withdrawal of Proctor and Clarke, however, seemed to allow Rovers to finally start asking some questions of their own and not long after Williams and Riccardo Calder fired just wide, they were somehow back in the game when Tyson combined with Williams on the edge of the box and prodded it home.
A frenetic period of injury time followed, with Taylor-Sinclair sending a chance wide and Williams, from closer range, doing the same. Too little, too late - but at least there was some semblance of fight.
Against Peterborough next weekend, Rovers better just hope they beat that traffic for once.
Bradford: Williams 6, Darby 6, N Clarke 7, Burke 6, Meredith 7, McMahon 7, Evans 7, Cullen 7, Reid 8, B Clarke 8 (Thomas 82), Proctor 8 (Hanson 72). Subs not used: Cracknell, Marshall, Knott, Leigh, Routis.
Rovers: Stuckmann 6, Evina 5, McCullough 5, Butler 6, Taylor-Sinclair 4, Chaplow 4 (Stewart 56, 5), Calder 5 (MacKenzie 90), Grant 4 (Middleton 30), Gooch 5, Williams 5, Tyson 5. Subs not used: Jones, Keegan, Mandeville, Davies.
Referee: Neil Swarbrick (Lancashire)