Rossington Main 0 Doncaster Rovers 3: Pre-season begins with a win

Doncaster Rovers fans could be forgiven for having their attention focused elsewhere as their side began their pre-season friendly programme.

Tuesday, 9th July 2019, 10:29 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th July 2019, 21:23 pm
Alfie May scores the opening goal for Rovers at Rossington. Picture: Andrew Roe

With talks on-going with the board's preferred candidate for the managerial vacancy, pitchside talk at Rossington Main's Oxford Street was firmly focused on off-field matters.

But while the business of determining who would be the man to lead them next season was being carried out, the players approached their traditional local friendly with the attention and professionalism it deserved.

Rossington Main v Doncaster Rovers

Goals from Alfie May, Max Watters and an own goal helped Rovers to a comfortable result in scoreline terms.

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But they were put through a taxing test by their Northern Counties East League neighbours, with the outing proving a fitness exercise in more ways than one.

And a brilliant performance by substitute goalkeeper Matt Leese kept the scoreline down.

Rovers - under the guidance of U23 boss John Schofield for the last time before the new manager arrives - fielded two entirely different sides in either half with the fresh legs certainly bearing fruit after the break.

The three new signings so far - Brad Halliday, Reece James and Madger Gomes - all started the game.

Rovers dominated possession in the opening half and while they moved the ball well through midfield, they found a packed Rossington rear guard hard to breach.

Their energy and the tempo of the play was excellent as they pushed forward consistently.

Of the new trio, Halliday impressed the most. Pushing high up the pitch and happy to take on his markers, the right back was a real attacking threat and flashed a shot from the corner of the box narrowly wide of the far post.

The deadlock was finally breached on 13 minutes with a sublime lofted effort from May sailing over the head of former Rovers keeper Jan Budtz in the Rossington goal.

But any thoughts of the floodgates opening were quashed as Main showed good resolve.

There was a big chance to double the advantage when John Marquis took a superb touch past him marker but his attempt to square to Gomes was off the mark.

Rossington's Jordan Buckham almost drew his side level after taking advantage of a misplaced pass from Tom Anderson but rushed his attempt to lob Ian Lawlor, who grasped at the ball gratefully.

Budtz produced a stunning save to tip wide another drilled effort on the angle from Halliday but Rovers' attacking efforts waned as half time approached.

The second half side was largely made up of U23 players, barring appearances for the lively Kieran Sadlier and Ali Crawford.

The youthful edge brought renewed energy and enthusiasm to the contest.

And it took only a minute for the lead to be extended. Sadlier stabbed a ball towards the back post and, in his attempt to turn behind for a corner, the young Rossington full back headed into his own net.

Six minutes later Rovers went further ahead. After battling his way forward, Watters slammed a low effort into the bottom corner.

Rovers could easily have extended their advantage futher but found Rossington keeper Leese in inspired form.

Sadlier smashed a brilliant effort which was tipped away while, moments later, Crawford curled high on goal only to see it pushed over the bar.

Will Longbottom stabbed an effort on goal from close range which *** pushed away while Buckham cleared off the line from a Shane Blaney header.

Rovers first half: Lawlor, Halliday, Wright, Anderson, James, Blair, Whiteman, Gomes, Coppinger, May, Marquis.

Rovers second half: Jones, Walker, McLean, Blaney, Amos, Sadloer, Crawford, Prior, Kiwomya, Watters, Longbottom.

Subs: Hasani, Gibbons, Greaves, Boocock, Horton.