Chorley 2 Doncaster Rovers 2: Star pupil Herbie Kane ensures some credit is picked up from FA Cup examination – analysis

Herbie Kane scored twice to earn Rovers a replay against non-league Chorley
Herbie Kane scored twice to earn Rovers a replay against non-league Chorley

With a headmaster in the opposition dugout Doncaster Rovers should have really expected the fair few lessons and a pretty tough examination they were handed on their trip to Chorley.

Jamie Vermiglio's hosts for this FA Cup tie passed their inspection with an outstanding rating.

But for Rovers, the last line of Grant McCann's report will simply read 'must do better.'

McCann's class of 2018/19 needed star pupil Herbie Kane to provide the answers to the toughest questions and earn them a resit next week.

His two goals - the second being of the highest quality - lit up the occasion from a Rovers perspective and provided positives where they had been so few.

Josh O'Keefe had headed sixth tier Chorley in front inside two minutes to get a packed Victory Park rocking and provide a particularly early indication that a walkover for the EFL side.

Kane fired Rovers level from close range on 11 minutes after John Marquis saw a shot parried by impressive home keeper Matt Urwin.

But Chorley were back in front before the break when Courtney Meppen-Walter swiped a shot from the edge of the box that went in off the post, mere moments after Mallik Wilks had missed a glorious opportunity.

Rovers pushed in the second half and saw their cause aided just after the hour when Matt Challoner was sent off for a horrendous, potentially leg-breaking tackle on Kane - though how referee Ross Joyce missed the challenge being well inside the box is a mystery.

Despite the numbers advantage it took Rovers until 77 minutes to equalise, when Kane curled a stunning strike into the top corner from 25 yards.

There was to be no further goals but there will be a further game at the Keepmoat next week.


As far as the neutral will have been concerned, the very essence of FA Cup magic will have been oozing out of this tie at Victory Park.

It had the lot. Plucky, part-time underdogs giving a real game to the professionals from several tiers up the footballing pyramid, played out on a heavy pitch in a noisy, tight ground.

For Chorley they could be forgiven for being a little frustrated that the magic of a first round win did not come their way.

Managed by Warrington primary school teacher Vermiglio, they started like a train, showed real attacking endeavour and defensive organisation.

The hit the post with a wonderful shot from Marcus Carver while the excellent delivery of Adam Blakeman brought a wonderful save from Ian Lawlor - making only his third start of the season.

For Rovers, they probably could not stomach another dose of this sort of magic.

A team in desperate need of a confidence-boosting pick-me-up win were instead made to battle and slog for 90 minutes just to earn themselves a chance to do it again.

Their heavily scrutinised defensive resilience remained in the spotlight while the lack of recent fluidity in attacking areas continued.

The magic from Rovers was about as impressive as that from a children's party entertainer - apart from one man.


It seems that it is not possible for Kane to have a bad game in Rovers colours.

Even on a day when his passing accuracy was way down on what it usually is, he delivered two incredibly important moments in the game and was a major part of another.

In fairness to Ben Whiteman, he was probably Rovers' best performer in an all-round capacity but Kane's goals saw him take the plaudits.

His two strikes came just one week on from him declaring he was desperate to add goals to his game.

It seems whenever the Liverpool loanee sets his mind to something, he delivers.

And it somewhat put to shame profligacy shown by Wilks, Marquis and substitute Alfie May in front of goal.

That his second goal will be plastered all over the highlights packages of the FA Cup first round will not ease the worries of those who fear a club higher up the league ladder will be banging on Liverpool’s door in search of Kane’s services come January.

But he was never going to fly under any radar for long.

Face it, the word is spreading - the boy is a bit special.


The sinking feeling hit inside two minutes when O'Keefe ran in from deep and got the march on Marquis to rise and plant a header into the far corner from Blakeman's corner.

The set-piece Achilles heel has yet to be shaken off and with every passing week it grows into a bigger concern.

It once again left them chasing a game - on this occasion one they should not have had to.

McCann understandably did not want to spend too much time talking about it with the media after the game. Words mean nothing.

But it is to be hoped the action starts to bear fruit sooner rather than later or this particularly frailty is going to cost Rovers dearly.


It would be wrong to point the critical finger only at Rovers’ defensive efforts because their attacking play was not much to write about either.

They had chances, certainly, and goalkeeper Urwin was a deserved man of the match winner for Chorley.

But for the second straight week their typically good build-up play was lacking.

Both full backs really struggled to deliver anything meaningful, despite being given plenty of space in which to do so.

And while both Whiteman and Kane found space well and slid in passes, little stuck.

The best chance of the game by far came with a stunning defence-splitting pass from James Coppinger sent Wilks through. His attempts to bamboozle Urwin played into the keeper’s hands and although Wilks got the shot away, the Chorley keeper got enough of a touch on it to direct it towards the post.

Such chances – the ones that were going in at the start of the season – must be taken again.


Rovers player ratings from draw at Chorley