Another positive performance but certainly room for improvement for Doncaster Rovers after Cambridge United draw

It says plenty about the strides Doncaster Rovers have made in recent weeks that there is room for criticism in a pretty decent performance.

By Liam Hoden
Wednesday, 27th October 2021, 12:05 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th October 2021, 12:07 pm
Ethan Galbraith has been excellent for Rovers in recent matches
Ethan Galbraith has been excellent for Rovers in recent matches

Rovers were the dominant attacking outfit and demonstrated patience and persistence to come from behind to earn a draw against Cambridge United and put points on the board in back-to-back games for the first time this season.

But they could, and arguably should, have done so much better with the landscape of the game as it was.

They recovered well from a rocky start in which they could not handle an intense press from Cambridge and conceded early when Dan Gardner sliced into his own net as he attempted to clear a drilled cross from the dangerous Shilow Tracey.

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But there was a ponderousness to their play from deep midfield which prevented them from unsettling a resolute visiting side.

Cambridge - patched up with six changes from their previous game - were more than happy to follow their initial exertions with sitting back and absorbing everything Rovers could muster.

The needed to be dragged out of their shape in order to be opened up.

And while Rovers had some success in doing that, there was significant room for improvement.

Too many times would a player - with John Bostock the chief culprit - dawdle in possession around the half way make, seemingly looking for the perfect pass.

It saw players in wide areas caught offside on multiple occasions as they anticipated a ball coming their way into space, only for it to come much too late.

Richie Wellens wants quick movement of the ball all over the pitch. He wants his deep lying midfielder to claim the ball and move it on simply and swiftly.

Right now, he does not have that and it is holding back his developing side.

Thankfully, it is not shackling them too much as they continue on their upward trajectory which has significantly lightened the mood.

Rovers, as a whole, look a confident side, undeterred by difficult moments or disappointing results.

They shook off a disappointing first half during which an off-colour and undercooked Dan Gardner was hooked before the break in a much-needed tactical shift.

It freed up Ethan Galbraith to push out from the right back slot he started in for the second successive game.

A bundle of energy and a player adept at receiving the ball and moving it on quickly with accuracy and progression, the Manchester United loanee has emerged as arguably the key man for Rovers since the last international break.

He seems to be the archetypal Wellens player - busy, forward thinking and incredibly intelligent in football terms.

He began plenty of attacks with wonderful passes, either over the top or through the eye of a needle.

But it was his own individual piece of brilliance that brought the equaliser when he latched onto Jordy Hiwula’s square pass and cracked a shot in off the post from close to 30 yards.

Rovers looked the more likely to win it but Rodrigo Vilca’s volley over the bar from ten yards was as close as they came.

Good. But still room for improvement.


In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.