Doncaster Rovers 1 Derby County 1: Steven Taylor impresses on trial as Ferguson’s men earn deserved draw

Steven Taylor impressed on trial with Rovers in the draw with Derby County. Picture: Marisa Cashill
Steven Taylor impressed on trial with Rovers in the draw with Derby County. Picture: Marisa Cashill

Steven Taylor featured on trial for Doncaster Rovers as they earned a creditable draw against Derby County in their first of two home friendlies.

The former Newcastle United centre back played the first half, and hardly put a foot wrong, after Ipswich Town decided not to offer the 31-year-old a new deal.

Rovers star man - Danny Andrew

Rovers star man - Danny Andrew

Taylor represents an experienced option for boss Darren Ferguson after operating for the majority of his career in the Premier League - but he would have to prove his fitness after an injury-plagued couple of years.

Ferguson, meanwhile, would have taken heart from a determined display against the Rams which saw Rovers improve in the second half and earn a draw thanks to a lovely equaliser from Tommy Rowe.

Rovers started brightly and the early stages saw them piece together some intricate passing around the edge of Derby’s box which first created space for Rowe to test Johnny Mitchell’s handling and then Alfie May send a shot well wide.

The hosts initially kept a good defensive shape and forced Derby to move the ball from side to side rather than straight through a congested middle section that saw Taylor employed as the middle centre back of three and Niall Mason continue to anchor the midfield.

However, that particular copybook was blotted on the quarter hour when Richard Keogh was allowed a completely free header from a Jacob Butterfield right wing corner to put the Rams ahead.

From that point the visitors started to control possession and might have doubled their lead moments later when David Nugent failed to take advantage of a poor punch from Ian Lawlor.

Rovers, on the other hand, started choosing more long, hopeful passes rather than sticking to their ‘through the thirds’ build-up.

On the half hour they produced a notably patient passing move but their was no end product, as the visitors continued to look in total command.

Derby came within a whisker of a second on 35 minutes when a long ball over the top caught the home side’s backline flat-footed but when Bradley Johnson pulled it back for Chris Martin the striker’s curling effort came back off the inside of the post.

Rowe had been Rovers’ most enterprising player of the first half, causing a few problems in between the lines, but fellow midfielder Ben Whiteman struggled to make any notable impact.

Andy Butler replaced Taylor at the break, while James Coppinger came on for Joe Wright and Mason dropped into the back three.

Danny Andrew, who had swapped positions with Tyler Garratt, drifted forward from centre back and saw a fizzed effort from distance deflected wide for a corner. Moments later he then sent over a teasing cross from the right which only just evaded everyone as the hosts immediately looked to seize the initiative.

Coppinger added a new dimension in midfield and saw a close range shot saved by Mitchell after a good one two with Matty Blair.

Rovers deservedly drew level on 59 minutes when Rowe superbly dummied a ball into the box before collecting the return from Alfie May and striking low into the bottom corner.

Midfield trialist Issam Ben Khemis was among a raft of substitutes introduced on the hour mark.

But the changes did not disrupt Rovers’ flow as Mitchell had to keep out a Garratt volley from a narrow angle and a Williams header.

As the game moved into the final quarter Derby were gifted the chance to re-take the lead from the penalty spot when Andrew upended Mason Bennett after Harry Middleton had carelessly given away possession. Martin, however, skied his kick.

Khemis again looked lively, displaying good technique, close control and an eye for a pass.

It was Derby that went closest to winning it in the closing stages, however, when Andreas Weimann saw an audacious curling effort clip the bar and go over.

Rovers: Lawlor (Marosi 60), Blair (Beestin 60), Wright (Coppinger 46), Taylor (Butler 46), Garratt, Andrew, Mason, Rowe (Ben Khemis 60), Whiteman (Middleton 60), May (Williams 60), Marquis (Mandeville 60). Subs not used: Walker.

Derby: Mitchell, Hanson, Keogh, Pearce, Forsyth, Butterfield, Johnson, Bennett, Nugent, Weimann, Martin. Subs not used: Roos, Rawson, Bird, Karic, Babos, Jacobson, Gordon, Taylor.

Attendance: 2,618