Match Analysis: Doncaster Rovers 1 Plymouth Argyle 1 - No more half measures if Rovers are to push on
Since Doncaster Rovers won three successive games over Christmas there have been murmurings of pushing on for the play-offs.
But they will need to raise the bar again - and deliver more 90-minute performances - if they are to get anywhere close.
A week ago against Rochdale in the FA Cup Rovers’ dominant second half performance was not enough to make up for their slow start.
Against Plymouth Argyle on Saturday they had the better of the first half but could not sustain it.
With four of their next five games against teams in the top seven - Shrewsbury Town, Scunthorpe United, Portsmouth and Charlton - Rovers will need to dig that little bit deeper to continue an impressive turnaround in league form which has seen them lose just two of their last 12 games.
STORY OF THE MATCH
Putting to one side the officiating which went on to dominate the post-match headlines, Rovers were good value for the half time lead given to them when Alfie Beestin finished off a lovely team move in expert fashion.
They should have been ahead before then, John Marquis wasting a gilt-edged one-on-one chance to end his nine-game run without a goal.
However, despite being denied a stonewall penalty at the death for Sonny Bradley’s careless challenge on James Coppinger, Rovers could have few complaints with the final outcome.
Their second half performance, somewhat epitomised by Alfie May’s nervous, error-strewn substitute appearance, lacked any semblance of control or composure.
Plymouth continually knocked on the door and although their equaliser arrived in controversial fashion, with Ryan Edwards appearing to foul Andy Butler before volleying home at the far post, even the most fervent Rovers supporter could not argue that the Pilgrims were not worth a point.
AREAS FOR CONCERN
Rovers’ form is good and they appear to be on the right track, but one or two issues have arisen in recent matches.
As Ferguson stated afterwards Marquis is putting a serious shift in for the benefit of the team, but the lack of goals from strikers is a problem. Him and May have now scored just one goal between them in 21 (combined) appearances.
It looked like a foul on Butler but Rovers have also now conceded from set pieces in their last three games and look particularly vulnerable defending the back post.
And is there a burn-out factor at play? Coppinger’s influence waned in the second half and Ferguson also admitted that young Beestin will struggle to complete 90 minutes at this level at the moment.
Marquis is working himself into the ground and would probably benefit from a rest but there is no one else in the squad capable of doing the job he does.
Things might just be catching up with Rovers after that successful, but hectic, Christmas.
VIEW FROM THE DUGOUT
Darren Ferguson: I didn’t think we deserved any more than a draw. We weren’t good enough in the second half, we didn’t have enough composure.
“First half I was pleased, I thought we played well. I thought we’d come through the worst of it when they scored but it’s a clear foul. We’re very unfortunate.”
Derek Adams: “The referee had a very good game. I thought he was excellent. Coppinger goes down very easily and I don’t think you can be in this game and give penalties for these kind of things.
“It became end to end and it became man to man. The way we opened them up a good number of times was pleasing for us.
“We have come here in the past and found it difficult but today it was a different story.”