Doncaster Rovers 2 Burton Albion 2: Shortcomings could haunt Rovers in final reckoning – match analysis

Matty Blair and Ali Crawford challenge for the ball.
Matty Blair and Ali Crawford challenge for the ball.

This Doncaster Rovers team could flourish in the play-offs.

On their day Grant McCann’s side are capable of outscoring any team in League One.

In the top four divisions, only Premier League powerhouses Manchester City have scored more goals this season than Doncaster in all competitions.

But to cement a top six finish Rovers are going to have to be a lot more streetwise and resilient than they have been over the last few weeks.

With 15 minutes remaining at Wycombe, a week ago, Rovers were 2-0 up and just five points off second place in the as-it-stands table.

No one needs reminding of what happened next.

But, infuriatingly, there was yet more late heartache at the Keepmoat Stadium on Saturday after Rovers had done very well to turn a difficult game against Burton Albion on its head.

Just like against Oxford United last month, Rovers ended up drawing a game they could very well have lost but really ought to have won.

They remain well placed, just one place and one point behind sixth-placed Peterborough United.

But that position would have been considerably better had Rovers not dropped those seven points from winning positions.

It’s something that could come back and haunt them at the end of the season.

And to avoid looking back in anger Rovers must stop repeating the same game management mistakes or, alternatively, convert more chances and put the opposition out of sight.

POSITIVES TO TAKE

Almost to a man, Rovers’ players dropped to their haunches at the final whistle following John Brayford’s 90th minute leveller. The mood was understandably flat.

But there were positives to reflect on.

Rovers could have been out of sight after half an hour, such was the Brewers’ superiority.

But to McCann’s credit he reacted quickly and his double change at half time, introducing two-goal hero Tyler Smith and Alfie May, completely changed the game.

The home side struggled to get near Burton at times before the break but they really showed their fighting spirit to turn the game on its head after the interval.

And Smith showed what an asset he could proved to be over the coming months with a brilliant brace on his first EFL appearance.

SET PIECE SETBACK

Old habits die hard. Just when you think Roves have conquered one bad habit – conceding from set pieces – they do it twice in the space of one game.

To link that to return of Marko Marosi in goal, following Ian Lawlor’s season-ending injury, would be extremely harsh.

What will upset McCann most is that both goals saw Rovers lose out not just on the first ball but also the second ball, with Brayford profiting on both occasions.

The renewed defensive set piece strategy will not be ripped up as a result.

But in terms of competing, and marking, Rovers must do much, much better.

DREAM DEBUT

Sheffield United youngster Smith came on in an situation with absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain.

And boy did he take his chance. Literally.

His instinctive header from Danny Andrew’s superb cross had all the hallmarks of his Blades teammate and former Rovers hero Billy Sharp.

And then when he was put clean through on goal by James Coppinger, and had more time to think about things, he showed real composure to beat Brad Collins.

Having spent time at Barrow earlier in the season, this was a big step up for Smith but on this evidence the 20-year-old is more than ready.

It’s just a shame he’s cup tied for this weekend’s big FA Cup clash with Oldham Athletic.