Doncaster Rovers: First impressions on the new signings, plus what else did we learn from the Grimsby defeat?
The result did not go Doncaster Rovers’ way in their latest friendly outing at Grimsby Town.
Jake Hessenthaler’s powerful finish during the closing stages earned the Mariners a 1-0 win at a blustery Blundell Park.
But boss Darren Moore will have arguably learned more from the defeat than he would have done from a victory, which may have papered over one or two cracks.
Here is a look at a number of things we learned from Rovers’ fourth pre-season run-out, including some first impressions on the new signings.
Building from the back
There is work to be done in attacking areas. That much was obvious as Rovers struggled to seriously test goalkeeper James McKeown and too many attacks broke down in the final third.
But Moore had every right to be satisfied with the efforts of the back four and two holding midfielders in his 4-2-3-1 set-up.
Joe Wright and Tom Anderson is a centre back partnership with plenty of promise, while full backs Brad Halliday and Reece James look like very useful additions to the squad.
There was a good defensive shape about Doncaster and the Mariners rarely got in behind – so it looks like a case of building from the back in the build-up to the Gillingham game on August 3.
How did the new boys do?
Halliday: This lad has a serious engine and loves a foray forward. The right back played almost as a winger at times and was very keen to get involved in attacks. He was caught seriously out of position on one occasion in the first half but Grimsby failed to take advantage.
James: The left back is a steady operator and has slotted in seamlessly. Unlike Halliday, you will not see as much of him bombing forward with the ball at his feet. He did, however, get high up the pitch and sent over a few excellent crosses.
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Sheaf: The cultured Arsenal youngster is as comfortable wearing a headband as he is in possession of the football. He is incredibly composed on the ball, rarely gives it away and has a touch of class about him. However, he should not be expected to fill the big boots left by Herbie Kane. He’s a different type of player to Kane. His passing is on point and he’s not shy of putting his foot in but he’s not the all-action type that Kane was.
Gomes: Looks raw and a little lightweight. Nevertheless, the former Leeds midfielder seems to be improving with every game and has a couple of tricks up his sleeve. He’s comfortable on his left foot which gives the team a bit of balance but was guilty of losing the ball too much against the Mariners.
Must do better going forward
Rovers are obviously getting to grips with Moore’s system, demands and instructions – and it will naturally take a bit of time.
But he will want to see a notable improvement in his side’s attacking play in their two remaining friendlies against Huddersfield Town and Hull City.
Some of Doncaster’s build-up and approach play was excellent. There were periods they controlled possession and looked every inch a side playing a level above their hosts.
But they failed to really hurt Grimsby or put them under any concerted period of pressure.
John Marquis cut a frustrated figure and someone needs to get closer to him for starters.
Moore has got his work out compensating for the loss of Mallik Wilks, who gave the team some much-needed power and pace.
Rovers were not slick or dynamic enough in an attacking sense. They missed the presence of James Coppinger but they cannot keep relying on the 38-year-old.