A frustrating day of 'what ifs' for Doncaster Rovers: Analysis of the 1-0 defeat at Shrewsbury Town

As a howling wind swirled around an empty Montgomery Waters Meadow following Doncaster Rovers’ 1-0 defeat at Shrewsbury Town on Saturday, there were two words which appeared to be on everyone’s lips – ‘frustration’ and ‘disappointment’.

By Ashley Booker
Sunday, 23rd February 2020, 9:33 pm

If you take a quick glance on social media, there maybe words stronger in nature to describe the 90 minutes in Shropshire and, of course, others a lot more colourful.

But in a sport where cliches are often trotted out by managers, players and even those in the press, both Darren Moore and Joe Wright were honest in their appraisal of events following Rovers second defeat on the road in a week.

They spoke of their frustration and disappointment, sentiments shared by those 496 hardy souls who had made the trip to see their side in action.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Once again, Rovers had more than enough chances to return home with at least a point and Moore spoke afterwards of his side not having the ‘guile and cleverness’ to win the game.

But if truth to be told, Rovers could have been a couple of goals to the good before Dave Edwards won it for the Shrews with a stooping header at the far post in the 76th minute.

“The chances were there, but we were just off it,” said Moore. “As the game was wearing on I was always thinking that at worse this was always going to be a 0-0.

“At worse probably 20 minutes into the game, once it had settled down, I thought it’s going to be 0-0. At this part of the game, the concentration levels have to be spot on. And they weren’t spot on because we conceded a goal from it.

Doncaster Rovers boss Darren Moore on the touchline during his side's 1-0 defeat at Shrewsbury Town. Photo: Howard Roe/AHPIX LTD.

“So at worse, I thought it was 0-0 and I would have been disappointed with a 0-0, so to lose the game I am very, very disappointed with that. We move on, the boys, myself, the staff we accept it. It wasn’t good enough today, we accept that and we move onto next week.”

As any observer will know, football is a game of fine margins.

What if Ben Sheaf had been more precise with his first half effort – the only real chance of note for either side in a scrappy first half – which he skied over the bar?

What if the impressive Jacob Ramsey’s second half effort had crept inside the post instead of striking it?

What if Max O’Leary hadn’t pulled off fine saves to deny captain Ben Whiteman and Cameron John?

Fine margins indeed and the difference between Rovers now reflecting on successive defeats instead of looking back on a well-earned win set against the backdrop of a game played in difficult conditions.

That they didn’t, is the source of such disappointment and the frustration of what could have been.

As happens so often, chances are missed and you get punished at the other end – and that’s precisely what happened here.

But credit to the home side.

They hadn’t won in the league since December 21, which is why Rovers fans would have followed their side confident of seeing their side return to winning ways, but defended resolutely and possessed a goalkeeper in fine form.

It is probably asking too much for Rovers to make up ground on the top six in such a short space of time but we all know the vagaries of football.

Wright and Brad Halliday have spoken in recent days about having the squad to mount a play-off push, but both tempered expectations by stressing the need for consistency – which at the moment, Rovers are struggling for.

“We saw just before Christmas and just after Christmas that we are capable of going on a run so we'll be looking to do that and hopefully climb up the table,” said Wright.

To do so, though, they will need to avoid a repeat of what happened at Shrewsbury and play with more ‘guile and cleverness’.