Boss-tock, costly concentration, 800-up, mis-firing misfortune and more talking points from Doncaster Rovers' defeat at Ipswich Town

Another week, another huge dose of frustration for Doncaster Rovers whose season appears to be tipping towards disappointment rather than delight.

Sunday, 28th February 2021, 12:11 pm

The 2-1 defeat at Ipswich Town saw dominance of the ball and excellent build-up play outweighed by a lack of concentration in key moments both in defence and in attack.

And it ensured they slumped to a fourth defeat in five matches, but remarkably clung on to their top sixth berth.

Here, we look at some of the talking points from the defeat at Portman Road.

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John Bostock shows his disappointment at the final whistle. Picture: Howard Roe/AHPIX

BACK TO DOMINANCE

It feels like a long time since Rovers truly had a grip on a game that they maintained for the vast majority of the playing time.

Against a strong outfit, they dominated the ball, worked it really well and forced the opposition deeper and deeper. And they did it throughout the game.

For long periods, passing was crisp, finding players whose movement off the ball took them into spaces high up the pitch.

Reece James pushes forward on the ball against Ipswich. Picture: Howard Roe/AHPIX

The unfortunate fact is that such positive play went to waste because of isolated moments.

And then there is the issue that such control and incisiveness was not carried through in front of goal.

CONCENTRATION COSTS NOTHING BUT A LACK OF IT COSTS EVERYTHING

When was the last time Rovers conceded a goal having been scythed through opposition players demonstrating real quality?

James Coppinger made his 800th career appearance in Rovers' defeat at Ipswich. Picture: Howard Roe/AHPIX

Or when was the last time Rovers were not the architects of their own downfall?

Two more goals conceded, two more goals that were eminently preventable and two more goals that ensured they had it all to do to take anything from the game.

Alan Judge’s free kick was well-struck to give Ipswich the lead. But the foul that led to it was sloppy and unnecessary, while there will rightly be question marks over the positioning of Ellery Balcombe as Judge went for the side of the goal not protected by the wall.

James Norwood’s strike to double the advantage in the second half was all too familiar for Rovers, given the manner of others they have conceded during their poor run.

Fejiri Okenabirhie returned to action after injury. Picture: Howard Roe/AHPIX

Not dealing with a set piece delivery, a mistake by one player which left the defence exposed as they sought to catch the opposition offside rather than cutting them out in front of goal.

It was easy for Norwood, who reacted quicker than Balcombe to poke the ball home from close range.

Such simple mistakes undo the good work elsewhere on the pitch and leave no margin for error when Rovers are hardly firing in opposition territory.

And they only grow more frustrating as they continue to happen, with basic concentration costing them so dearly.

LEGIT BOSS-TOCK

There was always the potential that Rovers had pulled off a signing coup in League One by landing John Bostock.

And the manner in which he pulled the strings in the middle of the park on Saturday added further weight to suggestions he could be a game changer at the level.

Sitting deep for the majority of the game, he sprayed passes around superbly to put Rovers on the front foot, particularly in bringing wide players into the game.

After a few flashes of his quality and ability since joining Rovers, and occasions where he has looked a little off the pace, this was comfortably the best all round contribution he has made.

And the dominance in the middle of the park was an exciting prospect for what is to come from a very talented player.

CLINICAL TOUCH STILL ABSENT

Not too long ago Rovers were one of League One’s top scoring outfits outright.

Amazingly, on a goals per game ratio they are still the division’s second most potent attacking force.

Yet throughout this campaign there has been the unshakable feeling that they lack ruthlessness in the final third to truly make their pressure and possession count on a consistent basis.

That was certainly the case at Portman Road as they wasted several golden opportunities to not only get something from the game, but to gain all three points.

Breaking Ipswich down was not too much of an issue as Rovers consistently got into good positions.

Making them count was the big problem.

There were times when players looked flatfooted as they failed to react quickly enough and moments when the quality of touch inside the box was not up to standard.

Jon Taylor’s finish to pull a goal back for Rovers was a good one. But other than Taylor Richards placing a shot that cannoned back off the post, similar quality in front of goal was lacking.

Richards himself missed a golden opportunity at the back post, while Taylor slashed at a chance that fell to him. But they were not the only ones.

Finding the killer touch in the final third is growing into as important an issue as ending the defensive frailty because there is simply no way Rovers can get by without being strong at least in one of those areas.

ANOTHER SPECIAL MILESTONE

James Coppinger came off the bench late on in a bid to grab the equaliser.

And in doing so he picked up his 800th appearance in senior football.

It was another milestone reached for a special player who has a garage full of them at home.

What more is there to say about the icon.

He needs 21 more appearances to reach the 700 mark with Rovers alone. That equates to every regular league game Rovers have left and a run to the play-off final.

Just saying.

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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. Nancy Fielder, editor.