Familiar tale brings more contempt as Doncaster Rovers fall to defeat at Gillingham

As it goes for Doncaster Rovers at the moment, familiarity breeds contempt.

Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 12:00 pm
Ethan Galbraith was excellent for Rovers at Gillingham

A familiar story, a familiar outcome, a familiar feeling of frustration and bitter, bitter disappointment.

Unfortunately, after a really positive first half ended without Rovers finding the back of the net, there was a familiar feeling of inevitability about what was to come in the second half.

And so, they left Gillingham empty handed, with a ninth defeat in their 12th league match of the season and no closer to pulling themselves from the foot of the table.

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There was the familiar sound of the manager praising his players for performing well but bemoaning mistakes off the ball and a lack of ruthlessness on it.

It may not have been the easiest pill to swallow but Richie Wellens was right to point out how good his side was in the first half.

They controlled the game in possession and were neat and tidy out of it to ensure Gillingham never really got a foothold in the game.

They constantly varied their approach as they looked to break down the blue brick wall - going long and short, direct down the middle or into the channels.

Some of the movement into space was excellent, particularly from Jordy Hiwula and the excellent Ethan Galbraith.

But just as they did against Wycombe Wanderers at the weekend, they failed to make good build-up play count.

Kyle Knoyle missed the most gilt-edged chance when he slammed into the side netting but plenty of others were guilty too.

A manager as wily and experienced as Steve Evans rarely allows a team to step foot on his turf and control two halves of football.

And he altered things at the break, pushing his side high up the pitch to give them greater presence and to also stop Rovers enjoying the sort of settled possession in defence and midfield they previously had.

Over 45 painful minutes, Rovers never recovered and never looked like winning the football match.

That lack of ability to turn the tide in games - just as it was four days earlier - is a major concern for Rovers.

Gillingham were encouraged more and more as the game tipped further into the sort of scrappy, direct affair they favour.

Rovers had been warned in the build-up not to concede cheap corners and throw ins as that would play straight into the Gills’ hands. And so it did.

After a spate of corners, Vadaine Oliver finally got the scrappy header on the ball he was looking for to give Gillingham the lead with 11 minutes to go.

Rovers had no time to tip the balance back in their favour. Nor did it seem that they had the street smarts to do so.

An all too familiar story that is getting harder and harder to stomach.

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In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.