ANALYSIS: Doncaster Rovers 3 Wolves 4 - Rovers made to pay for poor defending

Nathan Tyson attacks
Nathan Tyson attacks

All good things must come to an end and so it was for Rovers’ impressive pre-season campaign.

An air of frustrating disappointment hung over the Keepmoat on Saturday afternoon as the final friendly with Wolves played out.

Cedric Evina takes on Jack Price

Cedric Evina takes on Jack Price

It was not the defeat - losing to a good Championship side and scoring three goals is no dishonour.

But rather that blatant flaws appeared at the 11th hour after what has been such a promising summer.

Paul Dickov had been very impressed with his side’s work without the ball prior to last weekend.

In stark contrast, afterwards he must have been more than a little disappointed with the defending on show against Wolves.

Rovers goalkeeper Thorsten Stuckmann

Rovers goalkeeper Thorsten Stuckmann

All four Wolves goals - coming from Benik Afobe, Jordan Graham, Nouha Dicko and Bright Enobakhare - could have been prevented with more defensive composure.

And that is hardly a reassuring turn of events as Rovers prepare to face Bury’s fearsome forward line on Saturday’s opening day.

It would be wrong to write Rovers off after one flawed performance, just as it would to have taken a promotion push as a guarantee from previous pre-season matches.

But, as Dickov was quick to point out afterwards, the manner of the defeat served to bring everyone back down to earth and show there is still plenty of work to be done.

There were positives. Rovers found threat from set-pieces with Andy Butler and Rob Jones both netting with headers from corners.

And Nathan Tyson’s goal on his return to action came from his trademark tireless and committed running.

In midfield terms, the project for the new campaign looks to be well on its way. Even with Richard Chaplow given his first minutes in a Rovers shirt, there was a promising cohesion with a week to go before the season.

Andy Williams’ place in the side remains a work in progress. The potential for potency is clear to see with his intelligent runs off the shoulder around the edge of the box. He received a fine pass from Richie Wellens under close scrutiny from a pair of defenders with his superb touch taking him into space in one highlight.

But the link between the striker and his midfield providers has yet to be fully established, which causes attacks to break down.

Rovers were at their best over the first quarter of the game and took the lead after 20 minutes. Butler shrugged off his marker to meet a Harry Forrester corner with a diving header and divert the ball past former Rovers loanee Carl Ikeme.

Wolves were almost level straight away when Afobe easily rounded a lunging challenge from Aaron Taylor-Sinclair only for Thorsten Stuckmann to race out and tip the shot wide.

But from the subsequent corner, the West Midlands side equalised. The ball skidded off Lund’s attempted header and dropped at the feet of Afobe who stabbed home from two yards.

Six minutes later, Wolves were ahead. Dicko found space to squeeze a shot past Jones which Stuckmann parried but straight to Graham who slotted into an empty net.

As the first half wore on, it became apparent the game was one too far for Rovers.

The impressive energy present in the three previous home friendlies was lacking and they struggled to keep up with a quick Wolves outfit.

The visitors certainly did impress with quick movement of the ball, plenty of pace and tireless movement of their two forwards, Afobe and Dicko.

But Wolves’ third on 36 minutes was down to poor defending rather than anything special on their part.

Far too many Rovers players were drawn towards the ball delivered from a corner, leaving Dicko with all the space in the world to fire in from close range after Kortney Hause flicked on.

Click here for Paul Dickov’s view

Wolves changed their entire side for the second half while Rovers opted for three substitutions, including the introduction of Tyson.

And within two minutes he had levelled up the game after a catastrophic error from Wolves sub keeper Aaron McCarey. Tyson chased down a back pass, McCarey dummied his kick but slipped, allowing the Rovers striker to nip around him to score.

Wolves grabbed what proved to be the winner just after the hour mark. Enobakhare collected the ball 30 yards out and embarked on a mazy run past several lack-lustre challenges before rifling under Stuckmann.

Dany N’Guessan was handed his first Rovers action for the final 20 minutes but had little say on proceedings.

Like with the Frenchman’s fitness, there is still work to be done with Rovers.

But Saturday aside, they head into the new campaign on a largely positive note.

Doncaster Rovers: Stuckmann, Lund, Butler, Jones (McCullough 55), Taylor-Sinclair (Whitehouse 83), Coppinger (Middleton 46), Wellens (Evina 46), Keegan (P McKay 83), Forrester (Mandeville 83), Chaplow (Tyson 46), Williams (N’Guessan 72). Not used: Marosi

Wolverhampton Wanderers: Ikeme (McCarey 46), Iorfa (Doherty 46), Stearman (Ebanks-Landell 46), Hause (Hayden 46), Golbourne (Rowe 46), Graham (Ronan 46, Reid 77), Coady (Evans 46), Edwards (Price 46, Deslandes 81), Henry (Colclough 46), Dicko (Enobakhare 46), Afobe (Van La Parra 46).

Referee: Andy Madley.

Attendance: 2,147.