Shrewsbury Town 2 Doncaster Rovers 0: Chaotic first half delivers harsh warning to McCann’s men

Whether or not Doncaster Rovers needed a wake-up call, they have had one.

By Liam Hoden
Tuesday, 26th February 2019, 8:46 pm
Updated Tuesday, 26th February 2019, 8:47 pm
Shrewsbury Town v Doncaster Rovers
Shrewsbury Town v Doncaster Rovers

Slow out of the blocks and certainly chaotic, they were torn apart in a damaging first half which set the foundations for defeat at Shrewsbury Town.

Unable to handle the pace and pressing of the rampant hosts, they conceded goals to Josh Laurent and Tyrese Campbell and ultimately missed a golden opportunity to open up a five point cushion inside League One's top six.

After a lacklustre second half at Scunthorpe United saw the drop two points, they returned from Shropshire empty handed after a disappointing first period.

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Chances were created - very good chances - in a much improved second half performance but the damage was done.

Rovers remain in a strong position but cannot afford many more 45 minute periods like they two in the last two games which have proven so costly.

With an enforced change due to an injury to Herbie Kane, Grant McCann added two more with Tyler Smith, Aaron Lewis and skipper Tommy Rowe coming in and James Coppinger and Matty Blair dropping out.

But it was not with personnel changes that Rovers did not look like themselves.

Shrewsbury targeted Rovers' full backs, pressing high up against them to prevent them from playing quick passes into midfield and forcing them to send the ball long.

And on the rare occasions Rovers did attempt to play through the middle, they saw possession quickly snuffed out by the energetic hosts.

All too often, balls were clipped long, out from the back and it only succeeded in sending play straight back the other way.

When Shrewsbury got on the ball, they moved it quickly themselves, utilising a plethora of pace in their side to send passes into space and between a Rovers defence that was increasingly run ragged.

Greg Docherty, who along with Shaun Whalley, found plenty of space in midfield, slid through Fejiri Okenabirhie but Marko Marosi was alert to deny the forward with a fine save.

And Campbell raced clear on the break before rifling a shot just wide from the corner of the box.

The hosts continued to push and Okenabirhie should have done better after turning Tom Anderson - who was withdrawn after a clash of heads soon after - and drilling wide.

And Campbell drew a fine save from Marosi after again being played into space.

Rovers could not say they had not been warned.

But Shrewsbury's 18th minute opener did not come from a rapid break. Instead, midfielder Laurent collected a half cleared corner and, at the second attempt, curled beyond Marosi from the edge of the box.

Rovers finally got a shot of their own away, midway through the half when Ali Crawford drilled high first time only for Steve Arnold to block and hold well.

And the relentless pace that characterised Shrewsbury's opening play dipped a little, allowing Rovers to finally enjoy some possession in the opposition half.

Just when it seemed as though Rovers were finally beginning to settle into the game, they conceded a second - this time via something more akin to what had been causing them so many problems.

Docherty slid through a pass that had the Rovers backline appealing for offside but while they did Campbell raced through and finished emphatically beyond Marosi.

Mallik Wilks was Rovers' biggest threat, causing problems on the right and he weaved his way into space to unleash a low drive which Arnold stopped.

It was a brighter start from Rovers after the break with Coppinger, introduced at half time for Smith, quickly involved.

Rovers' off the ball play was much better, with a strong press forcing errors and pushing Shrewsbury deeper.

Marquis lost his balance at a key moment and spooned over the bar after being played in by Tommy Rowe.

And Wilks tested Arnold with a snap shot from ten yards.

The frustration perhaps told on McCann, who received his first yellow card of the season due to protests over a suspected hand ball.

McCann's frustration will only have grown as he watched his side dominate proceedings but spurn glorious chances.

Shrewsbury somehow kept the ball out following a goalmouth scramble during which Andy Butler got a shot away.

Fellow substitute Kieran Sadlier stabbed over the bar after meeting a superb ball in by Wilks.

And moments later Sadlier was denied by Arnold after following up a scuffed effort three yards out from Marquis. 

Shrewsbury finished the game in relative comfort as Rovers struggled to muster the same sort of threat in the dying moments.

SHREWSBURY: Arnold; Williams, Waterfall, Bolton; Whalley (Gilliead 81), Docherty, Grant, Laurent, Haynes; Campbell (Payne 64), Okenabirhie (Sears 70). Subs: Charles-Cook, Sadler, Beckles, Holloway.

ROVERS: Marosi; Lewis, Downing, Anderson (Butler 29), Andrew; Crawford (Sadlier 79), Whiteman, Rowe; Wilks, Marquis, Smith (Coppinger 46). Subs not used: Jones, Blair, Greaves, May.

REFEREE: Matt Donohue (Gr Manchester)

ATTENDANCE: 5,394 (357 away)