A jigsaw with multiple options for each space: Analysis of Doncaster Rovers' defeat at Fleetwood Town and the brainteaser facing Darren Moore

From paupers to boasting an embarrassment of riches - Doncaster Rovers’ attacking options have been transformed in the space of a few short days.

Sunday, 2nd February 2020, 2:00 pm
Updated Sunday, 2nd February 2020, 4:12 pm

The big question now facing Darren Moore is just how does he fit them all in.

When it came to the trip to Fleetwood Town, the Rovers boss stuck with tried and tested - Niall Ennis leading the line, supported by Kieran Sadlier, Jon Taylor and Madger Gomes.

Moore wants time on the training ground with his new quartet of signings in order to get them up to speed with his ways and means before unleashing them from the start.

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Kieran Sadlier during Doncaster Rovers' clash with Fleetwood Town. Picture: Howard Roe

That will come over the next couple of weeks and then he will have plenty of pondering to do.

A cursory glance at his bench at Highbury showed just that.

Just eight days prior, Moore could only name six substitutes after injuries robbed him of a forward who is no longer at the club and an U23 defender.

On Saturday, he had six outfield players on the bench, all of whom could justifiably have started the match. And newcomer Jason Lokilo was ineligible, having signed after the cut-off point to make the game.

Ben Sheaf heads on goal against Fleetwood Town. Picture: Howard Roe

Moore certainly seems committed to his favoured system of 4-2-3-1 for the time being - as reflected by the fact he stuck with it even after introducing Devante Cole and Fejiri Okenabirhie off the bench. Rovers finished the game with Okenabirhie up front and Cole and Ennis occupying the wide slots of the supporting three.

There is going to be plenty of shuffling as options as Moore tackles the brainteaser of a jigsaw that has multiple options for each space.

One player making it difficult for Moore to change things up is Ennis, whose form has been superb since his return from injury in mid-December.

There is little more left to be said about his phenomenal work rate and what his tireless running does for the team as a whole as he drags defenders around and makes space for others.

But in the last few matches - and this clash with Fleetwood in particular - he has looked much more of a genuine threat and deservedly got the goals to back it up.

On Saturday he delivered his typical work of backing into defenders and receiving the ball. But rather than simply holding the ball up and releasing, as he has become so adept at, he is now looking to spin off his marker and get a shot away.

He took his second half goal really well to give Rovers a lifeline. After Sadlier saw a shot blocked, Ennis drilled the follow-up low beyond Fleetwood keeper Alex Cairns.

The youngster is bordering on undroppable status. And that will give Moore a welcome headache.

Saturday’s game alone was enough to give anyone headaches as the Fylde coast’s typically violent winds wreaked havoc and ensured quality levels were never likely to be high.

There was very little between the two sides in a scrappy affair where there was a distinct absence of sustained possession and pressure from either.

Ultimately it was decided by two set pieces where Rovers would have hoped to do much better.

Seny Dieng could not wrestle past Ched Evans to punch away a corner, allowing the former Wales international to sneak in and poke home from close range.

And then a deep free kick from ex-Rovers full back Danny Andrew - welcomed ‘warmly’ by the travelling support - bounced through with Sadlier sticking out a leg to block, only to send it into the path of Harry Souttar to fire home.

The cushion allowed Fleetwood to see out the game with boss Joey Barton’s unique brand of game management.

Rovers, for all their fight and endeavour, lacked the quality touch in the final third.

But Moore certainly now has enough options to hope to address that in the coming weeks.