Ideal debut, still work to do, midfield fluidity  and more Talking Points from Doncaster Rovers' EFL Trophy tie with Bradford City

Doncaster Rovers kicked off their EFL Trophy campaign by taking a bonus point via a penalty shootout after their clash with Bradford City ended goalless.

Wednesday, 9th September 2020, 10:59 am

Here we take a look at some of the main talking points from Tuesday night.

A SUPERB DEBUT

As first senior appearances go, it was pretty much flawless from goalkeeper Louis Jones. It has been a long wait for the 21-year-old to make his bow for his hometown club but he rose to the challenge with a confident and composed display.

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Jon Taylor drives a shot on goal against Bradford City

He set the tone with a superb long punch out of his area under pressure in the early stages and from there, he never looked particularly troubled.

Speaking earlier in the week, he said one of the biggest things he learned from Seny Dieng last season was to have confidence in his decision-making and it was heartening to see him put that into practice. When he came for the ball he had an air of the phenomenal assurance that Dieng displayed - powerful, commanding and full of belief that no one was going to stop him grasping it out of the air.

It was fitting that he saved a penalty in the shootout to set Rovers on their way to the bonus point. And he has definitely given Darren Moore something to think about.

NOT THERE YET

Moore admitted last week that he was unsure of how close to ideal condition his players would be when they kick off their league campaign on Saturday against MK Dons.

That is perhaps not the greatest of concerns now however following an energetic performance in a tasking game. The group certainly looked a lot fitter than they did ten days earlier at Blackburn Rovers.

The area where they still look a little short is in their attacking fluency. There was good work to get the ball into wide areas, where the main threat came from on Tuesday night.

But in the final third, Rovers found Bradford a tough nut to crack and had few few chances of real note.

It was a little telling that the first shot on target, well into the second half, came with a quick-fire, one touch move with James Coppinger lashing a low shot from 20 yards. Intricate, considered build-up play was not working and Rovers could have been accused of over-thinking things.

It would be a little unfair therefore to expect Rovers to hit the ground running on Saturday and we should see some progression over the first month of the season.

MIDFIELD FLUIDITY

Moore has always demanded a good deal of flexibility from his players within the 4-2-3-1 system he has remained loyal to since his arrival at the Keepmoat - particularly in his midfield ranks.

But the fluidity has been turned up considerably based on the evidence we have seen so far.

Madger Gomes and Taylor Richards both had spells partnering Ben Whiteman in the sitting two - and both had spells where they were the player highest up the pitch.

It gave Rovers plenty of options in possession and helped bring the wide players into play regularly.

There were a few issues with cohesion, which is understandable given the lack of preparation time but if Rovers can find the flow as understanding among the players grows, then they could be very difficult to handle in the middle of the park.

GROWING INTO THE POSITION

It has not even been a debate so far over where Cameron John’s best position is but he is beginning to ensure a few more questions will be asked.

Building on a positive re-debut against Blackburn, John again featured at left back and tuned in arguably his best performance in the position so far in Rovers colours.

His confidence in his attacking ability seems to grow with every appearance and he got forward well, linking up with midfield players superbly.

And his positional sense defensively in the position is improving also.

PRESENCE IN THE STANDS

New signing Tyreece John-Jules watched on from the west stand at the Keepmoat, getting his first taste of what he can expect from his new team mates.

His presence offered some reassurance with the squad still looking light on number - and certainly options in attacking positions.

Jason Lokilo came off the bench in the second half but was Moore’s only real game-changing option in attacking terms and offered similar threat to the man he replaced, Jon Taylor.

John-Jules will give Moore the chance to really mix up his attacking ranks - potentially switching to two strikers at times - while his pace and power will be valuable assets when attempting to break down a stubborn defence.

Should all go to plan, he will not be the final attacking option added in the next few weeks and Rovers will possess more bite.

SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE

The one thing that could be relied upon last season was Rovers’ twin towers in the heart of defence.

Thankfully, that constant looks to have been untroubled by five months of inactivity.

Tom Anderson and Joe Wright developed a phenomenal partnership from December onwards last season.

Hopefully, injury will not trouble either man in the coming months and they can continue to build into the division’s best defensive duo.

On Tuesday night they were as resolute, unflappable and commanding as has come to be expected of them.

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