Fleetwood Town 3 Doncaster Rovers 0 – All too familiar tale of woe ​​​​​​​leaves McCann’s men empty-handed

Fleetwood Town v Doncaster Rovers
Fleetwood Town v Doncaster Rovers

  It is a time of the year for familiar stories - but ones typically a lot more heartwarming than this.

For Doncaster Rovers, there played out an all-too familiar tale of woe against a Fleetwood Town outfit who could take the role of their chief frustrators when the story of this season is written.

The Boxing Day renewal between the two sides played out in such similar fashion to the reverse fixture in October, there was almost a sense of deja vu.

Yet again, Rovers enjoyed the better of possession, moved the ball well deep into Fleetwood territory but saw chances break down before they could really be crafted.

Chances for the hosts were few and far between but they showed the sort of ruthlessness they displayed in their 4-0 triumph at the Keepmoat almost three months ago.

Just as on that October afternoon, Joey Barton's side were aided by defensive lapses, errors which presented chances taken twice by Paddy Madden and once Ashley Hunter that allowed the hosts at Highbury the opportunity to soak up Rovers pressure.

And they did that with ease for another victory over Rovers that was far too comfortable than it should have been.

From the off, Rovers enjoyed much the better of the possession, spending the first ten minutes camped in the Fleetwood half.

But in a taste of what was to come, real openings were scant with Ali Crawford and Danny Andrew firing wide from distance.

Then, on 11 minutes, came the suckerpunch.

Nathan Sheron raked a superb ball from deep and Madden reacted best, darting between the flat-footed Shaun Cummings and Tom Anderson to power a header past Ian Lawlor.

The pattern continued as it was, with Rovers pushing and Fleetwood arguably more content to soak up pressure.

Fleetwood keeper Alex Cairns batted away a drive from James Coppinger before a considerable shout for a penalty when Mallik Wilks was wrestled by Craig Morgan when attempting to meet a cross.

Rovers thought they had the leveller when Andy Butler headed into an empty net after a Danny Andrew free kick hit the post but the effort was ruled out for offside.

Frustration among the Rovers camp only seemed to grow as the half wore on and the major issue became attempting to force chances.

Passes were increasingly misplaced, with chances breaking down too easily which only played into Fleetwood's hands.

Tommy Rowe came off the bench at the break to replace Shaun Cummings, with Herbie Kane dropping back to cover at right back.

But before the defensive reshuffle could be bedded in, Fleetwood exploited it to double their advantage.

Anderson attempted to nod a long ball back towards Ian Lawlor but did not account for the presence of Ched Evans who took possession, drew out the keeper and squared to Hunter to tap in.

Fleetwood had a real position of comfort at that point and invited Rovers on.

But the hosts were close to adding a third only for Lawlor to produce a stunning one-handed stop to keep out a powerful header from substitute Harrison Biggins.

Rovers pushed and went close with three powerful drives in quick succession from sub Alfie May, Ben Whiteman and Rowe.

As the freezing fog rolled in off the Irish Sea, Hunter nipped in behind Kane to claim the ball and smash a shot which drifted narrowly wide of the far post.

Rovers continued to push but struggled to latch onto dangerous balls into the box.

And Fleetwood rounded off the game in added time when Madden sprinted between Kane and Anderson to latch onto a superb pass from Evans and finish excellently with the outside of his boot.

In recent weeks Rovers have taken points without playing close to their best.

On Boxing Day it caught up with them.

FLEETWOOD: Cairns; Sheron (Biggins 46), Morgan, Eastham, Coyle; Wallace, Marney, Holt (J Wallace 64), Hunter (Burns 80); Evans, Madden. Subs: Jones, Burns, McAleny, Bolger, Taylor, Biggins.

ROVERS: Lawlor; Cummings (Rowe 46), T Anderson, Butler, Andrew; Crawford (May 57), Whiteman, Kane; Wilks, Marquis, Coppinger. Subs: Marosi, Blaney, Amos, Prior, Taylor,.

REFEREE: Peter Wright (Merseyside)