Determined Doncaster Rovers refuse to allow season to peter out: Analysis of the win over Wycombe Wanderers

Darren Moore spoke passionately in the week about not allowing any season to peter out, nevermind his first as Doncaster Rovers boss.

By Liam Hoden
Sunday, 1st March 2020, 12:00 pm
Updated Sunday, 1st March 2020, 3:30 pm

And he will have watched on with a great degree of satisfaction as his players backed him up at the first opportunity.

The manner of the victory over Wycombe Wanderers was an emphatic demonstration that no one at Rovers is ready to give up the ghost this season any time soon.

It was not simply down to beating a side who still harbour genuine hopes of securing automatic promotion.

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Danny Amos was handed his first league start of the season in Doncaster Rovers' clash with Wycombe Wanderers. Picture: Marie Caley

Instead, it was the process of doing so - riding through a suffocating first half hour to show real composure and patience, shaking off a setback and then powering through to a relatively comfortable finish.

It took guts, it took quality and, most significantly, it took determination.

This was a Rovers side heading into the game with their season at a real tipping point.

After back-to-back defeats, they could not afford to lose any further ground in the heavily congested race for the top six. Doing so would indeed have seen the season begin to peter out.

Niall Ennis slots in to put Doncaster Rovers ahead against Wycombe Wanderers. Picture: Marie Caley

But in a clash against a well-organised and supremely well-drilled opposition, they demonstrated the fight they need and also gave a timely reminder they can be a bloody good team when things click into place.

Things had not clicked over the first half hour when Wycombe were in full control of proceedings.

The away record of Gareth Ainsworth’s side is poor, given their standing in the division this season. But it was baffling as to why when watching the manner in which they performed during the game’s opening period.

They denied Rovers any space whatsoever, immediately pressing tightly whenever a pass went into a player which forced error after error from the hosts who were not allowed to get going.

Niall Ennis celebrates his goal for Doncaster Rovers with Madger Gomes. Picture: Marie Caley

And Wycombe were very, very good at transitioning into attack quickly, getting four or five bodies into advanced areas with Rovers still wondering how they had lost the ball in the first place.

But the visitors did meet a Rovers back line in no mood to allow anything to get through. Tom Anderson in particular was imperious as Wycombe struggled for sight of goal.

Key in the overall outcome of the game was that Ainsworth’s side could not maintain their stifling play at the early levels.

Key also was that Rovers had exactly the right approach when the close attention did loosen. They were patient and composed, not rushing their play but instead determined to keep the ball and bide their time to make something happen with it.

Kieran Sadlier puts Doncaster Rovers back in front against Wycombe Wanderers. Picture: Marie Caley

Moore has come in for criticism recently for his tinkering with his starting XI. He shook that off with his trademark huge smile and made three changes while switching to a 4-1-4-1 system for this one.

And there can be no denying that he got it absolutely spot on - with the addition of the impressive Danny Amos at full back but particularly with alterations in midfield.

Adding legs and an extra body in the middle of the park in the combative shape of Madger Gomes was a hugely important move. But also the clever craft of Kieran Sadlier on the right and sticking with the relentlessly battling Niall Ennis on the left.

Wycombe tried to keep up the close attention but skipper Ben Whiteman - in the sitting role - increasingly found space between the lines and the players ahead of him dropped into pockets which allowed Rovers to push up the pitch.

By the end of a difficult first half they were in the ascendency and Ennis’ goal on 45 minutes - a tremendous display of great footwork - saw them really take control.

That they shook off the setback of Adebayo Akinfenwa’s equaliser on 57 minutes to go back in front four minutes later through Kieran Sadlier showed just determined Rovers were.

When Jason McCarthy turned a cross from lively debutant Jason Lokilo into his own goal, the comfort of the scoreline was nothing more than Rovers deserved.

It ain’t over til it’s over. And this season isn’t over by a long shot.