ANALYSIS: What the FA Cup stalemate with AFC Wimbledon told us about Doncaster Rovers

Few would claim there is real strength in depth at Doncaster Rovers.

Saturday, 9th November 2019, 11:58 pm
Updated Sunday, 10th November 2019, 3:45 pm
Tom Anderson equalised for Rovers in the FA Cup tie with AFC Wimbledon

But the FA Cup clash with AFC Wimbledon suggested the situation is not as bad as many would fear.

Granted, there is significant work to be done to bolster Rovers’ ranks in the next couple of transfer windows.

But in certain areas of the pitch, there is welcome and capable back-ups to first choice players.

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Darren Moore was forced into three changes for the first round tie at Kingsmeadow.

But over 90 rain-lashed and energy-sapping minutes, the absences were hardly felt.

There was never likely to be any concerns about Joe Wright stepping back into action. Prior to the start of the campaign he looked set to be Rovers’ most important defender until injury robbed him of the opportunity to be so.

Wright looked as though he had not missed a beat despite the disruption to his campaign. He defended in commanding fashion and looked good on the ball – an increasingly important factor at Rovers.

Moore faces a tough decision when Donervon Daniels returns from the groin strain which kept him out of this fixture.

And with Cameron John to return also, there can be doubting Rovers’ strength at centre half.

Illness – one that has spread through the Rovers squad over the last fortnight – saw Ben Whiteman and Reece James sit out the trip.

Danny Amos came in for James and performed admirably, particularly when it came to deliveries.

The 19-year-old crosses superbly, either from a dead ball or open play – reflected by the fact he is handed set piece duties no matter who else is in the side for Rovers.

A fine delivery to the near post from a corner saw Tom Anderson head in the equaliser for Rovers but Amos’ best cross came in the first half when he laid the ball on a plate for the disappointing Kwame Thomas, who headed straight at Wimbledon keeper Nathan Trott.

In defensive terms Amos delivered a neat and tidy performance. He looked a little unsure with the possession play out from the back from Rovers but that will quickly develop with more experience.

Madger Gomes came in for Whiteman and showed his continued development in the sitting midfield role.

A more conventional midfielder on his arrival in the summer, Gomes has been forced to find a place under Moore and looks more than capable as part of the sitting two.

He does not possess the quality of the ball of Whiteman – few at the level do – but he delivered an all-action performance on Saturday.

Gomes rushed and harried the opposition, disrupting Wimbledon’s play and enabled Ben Sheaf to push further forward.

Should either Sheaf or Whiteman be ruled out for anything longer term, Gomes would be a capable stand-in.

A glance at the bench showed there is still work to be done on the squad. Moore would likely prefer to have to raid the development ranks less to bolster his bench.

But having to call in reinforcements worked well on Saturday, and Moore will take confidence from that.

As a whole, the performance was largely a positive one from a Rovers perspective.

They were much improved from the previous game against Burton Albion, particularly in possession where short, sharp passing returned to the fore.

Rovers were faced with a task of playing through a packed Wimbledon half and did so well with a mix of intricate possession play and more directness with balls into the channels.

It saw them have the better of the attacking play and, in truth, they really should have got the job done on Saturday and avoided the replay.

Having to come from behind after Joe Pigott’s header late in the first half did not help.

That came after missed opportunities for Thomas and Jon Taylor while the excellent James Coppinger had chances in the second half before Anderson bravely headed home.

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