Doncaster Rovers 2 Newcastle United 2: Injuries take gloss off well earned draw

Andy Williams celebrates with John Marquis
Andy Williams celebrates with John Marquis

The gloss was well and truly taken off an encouraging Doncaster Rovers display by a catalogue of injuries.

Andy Williams scored twice in the first half to earn Rovers what ought to have been a confidence-boosting draw.

But the evening was marred by injuries to Joe Wright, Harry Middleton and Craig Alcock, the latter two of which could be serious.

Young midfielder Joey McCormick also dislocated his shoulder.

With Mathieu Baudry and Gary McSheffrey also sidelined through injury, boss Darren Ferguson is facing up to an unwanted injury pile-up ahead of the new season.

His side were far more convincing in possession than they were against Middlesbrough on Saturday and also took the sting out of Rafa Benitez’s side for long periods. Goalkeepers Ross Etheridge and Marko Marosi also shone.

Isaac Hayden halved the deficit just after the re-start before a late goal from Ayoze Perez saved Newcastle’s blushes.

The first incident of note came on 15 minutes when Etheridge had to be alert to make a smart save to deny Adam Armstrong.

Just moments later Rovers were gifted the lead from the penalty spot after a brain-fade from the Magpies’ new goalkeeper Matz Sels. Sels made a complete mess of dealing with a back-pass and ended up barging into Marquis, handing Williams the opportunity to coolly convert from 12 yards.

Rovers could be quite pleased with how they had started the game but were occasionally guilty of playing themselves into trouble in dangerous areas. One such mistake from Alcock allowed Armstrong to attack the edge of the box but he curled his shot well wide.

Marquis headed James Coppinger’s cross wide, while at the other end the impressive Etheridge had to make another good stop to keep out Armstrong one-on-one.

Rovers were dealt a blow before the interval when Wright, who had shown plenty of early promise with his reading of the game and ability on the ball, limped off and was replaced by Mitchell Lund.

But that did not stop the home side doubling their lead on the stroke of half time when Coppinger’s corner from the right was headed back across the face of goal by Butler and Williams was in the right place at the right time to nod home his second of the game.

Rovers switched from 3-5-2 to their 4-4-2 diamond upon the re-start and quickly found themselves under pressure from a much-changed Newcastle.

Marosi made an excellent full length save to keep out Hayden’s long range effort but from the resultant corner the same player’s volley took a deflection and looped into the corner. Seconds later Newcastle would have been level but for another fine stop from Marosi, this time preventing Armstrong who had gone clear.

A raft of substitutions disrupted the flow of the game but within quick succession Rovers saw Middleton and then Alcock stretchered off following hefty challenges.

Newcastle’s pressure paid off in the dying moments when Perez burst into the box, turned his man and fired home.

Rovers: Etheridge (Marosi 46), Wright (Lund 38), Butler, Alcock (McCormick 69), Evina (Garratt 46), Middleton (Fielding 60), Coppinger (A Trialist 65), Blair (Mandeville 46), Rowe (Calder 46), Marquis (Pugh 64), Williams (Longbottom 64).

Newcastle: Sels, Janmaat (Sterry 46), Mbembe (Saivet 67), Lascelles (Dummett 46), Anita (Gamez 46), Colback (Hayden 46), Shelvey (Wijnaldum 79), Ritchie (Gouffran 46), Aarons (Perez 46), Mitrovic (Gayle 46), Armstrong (Thauvin 62). Subs not used: Darlow, Tiote.

Referee: R Joyce

Attendance: 5,698