LIVE: Doncaster Rovers v Fleetwood Town: Build-up and full match updates
The big games keep on coming for Doncaster Rovers as they face relegation rivals Fleetwood Town – and you can follow it as it happens.
Join us from the Eco-Power Stadium as we bring coverage of this crunch clash at the foot of League One. Remember to REFRESH regularly for the latest updates.
Doncaster Rovers 0 Fleetwood Town 1
Last updated: Saturday, 08 January, 2022, 17:04
GOAL: Harrison (50)
ROVERS: Dahlberg; Knoyle, Williams, Olowu, Horton (Cukur 87); Smith, Galbraith; Barlow (Dodoo 63), Rowe, Hiwula (Seaman 73); Bogle. Subs: Jones, Blythe, Greaves, Hasani.
FLEETWOOD: Cairns; Johnston, Clarke, Johnson, Andrew; Lane, Biggins, Batty, Camps, Hayes; Harrison (Pilkington 64). Subs: Crellin, Morris, Baggley, Conn-Clarke, Boyle, Bird.
REFEREE: Darren Bond (Lancashire)
No justification for such lifelessness
You can take being well beaten, you can even take being poor but showing fight. There’s nothing about that performance from Rovers that can be stomached.
They were really poor but they were also incredibly ponderous, slow, lacklustre and any other word you would care to use to describe something devoid of life and fight.
In a contest such as this, it demanded a certain level of commitment and energy that simply wasn’t there.
Had Charlie Seaman equalised in stoppage time, it would have been undeserved.
If Morecambe was indefensible, this was something even worse.
4.59pm All over
Rovers are beaten
90+3min Big chance
The ball drops to Charlie Seaman who absolutely smashes it from ten yards, only to see it batted away by Alex Cairns.
4.52pm Added time
Tiago Cukur replaces Branden Horton
80min Yellow card
Callum Camps, Fleetwood Town
Charlie Seaman replaces Jordy Hiwula
69min Since going behind....
Rovers have barely had a kick in the opposition half. They’re so incredibly passive in this game and barely able to muster anything of note. Really poor.
Danny Andrew smashes a shot from the corner of the box which flies narrowly over.
That followed what looked like a blatant hand ball from Joseph Olowu. Rovers lucky to escape.
Joe Dodoo replaces Aidan Barlow for Rovers
Anthony Pilkington is on for Ellis Harrison for Fleetwood.
57min Threat from Harrison
Cian Hayes flights in a dangerous ball for Fleetwood and Ellis Harrison timed his run well to produce a header which dropped over the bar.
52min So close
Rovers almost level things up straight away when Tommy Rowe rises at the near post to meet a Branden Horton corner and flick a header, which drops just wide of the far post.
50min GOAL Fleetwood
The visitors take the lead with a close range finish from their new signing Ellis Harrison.
The ball was flashed across the front of goal and Harrison got to it first to turn it beyond the keeper.
48min Good save
Dan Batty cuts inside for Fleetwood and curls for goal from 20 yards with Pontus Dahlberg tipping over the bar.
4.06pm Back underway
Jordy Hiwula takes the kick-off and we’re back up and running
It is in name only that this is a relegation scrap because there’s been absolutely nothing on the pitch to suggest that in any way.
There’s been very little in the way of battle on the pitch in what has been a woefully poor spectacle.
Making matters worse is the fact Rovers have lacked any sort of life in their play. Everything is far too slow and ponderous and they’ve shown zero threat.
Barring a poor header from Omar Bogle in stoppage half, their only threat has amounted to one decent cross from Kyle Knoyle. Everything else has broken down far too easily and been mopped up so simply by the opposition.
Fortunately Fleetwood, except for a spell midway through the half, have been largely lacklustre themselves.
Rovers have got to be so much better, and show a lot more urgency about their play - because their plight demands it.
3.51pm That’s the break
45+1min An attempt!
Omar Bogle has just headed well wide from a Matt Smith cross and that rather tame effort is Rovers’ first attempt at a shot all afternoon. Lovely
3.49pm Added time
43min Yellow card
Aidan Barlow, Doncaster Rovers
This is an awful game of football and the most awful part of it is the lack of anything resembling spark from Rovers. Really poor.
Paddy Lane gets the better of Tommy Rowe and curls a shot for the far post which Pontus Dahlberg holds well.
27min Wrong tone
Having let a ball roll out of play that he didn’t need to, Pontus Dahlberg has then taken an age to walk over to the ball, pick it up and walk across to the opposite side of his six yard box to take the goal kick. It’s not a situation at this stage where everything needs to be 100mph and frantic but the ponderous nature of the whole exchange sets the wrong tone for a team that are supposed to be fighting for their lives.
24min Next to no threat
Rovers have yet to produce anything of note in attack barring a dangerous Kyle Knoyle cross that no one could meet.
It’s not happening at all in the opposition half so far, with no meaningful possession in the final third.
Danny Andrew stands over a free kick 28 yards out. He curls the ball over the wall and on target but it’s a good height for Pontus Dahlberg who bats it away.
18min Good save
It’s all a bit easy for Fleetwood to play through Rovers as Cian Hayes is put in on the left. He gets the march on both Ro-Shaun Williams and Kyle Knoyle before drilling a low effort which Pontus Dahlberg blocked well with his leg.
13min Struggling to get going
It feels a little bit flat from Rovers so far. They’re trying to get the ball forward early but the movement in the opposition half hasn’t nearly been good enough so far and Fleetwood are comfortably dealing with it.
1min Rowe at left back
Tommy Rowe has started the game at left back with Branden Horton playing on the left of the attacking midfield three.
Fleetwood’s Harrison Biggins takes the kick-off and we’re up and running
The team is in
And it’s two changes from the side that started at Morecambe.
The big news is that Louis Jones drops to the bench with Pontus Dahlberg handed his first start of the McSheffrey era. We understand this is not a decision based on form, but Jones instead has picked up a muscle injury and is only able to take his place on the bench.
The other change sees Ro-Shaun Williams return to the side for the first time since November in place of the injured Dan Gardner. This allows Tommy Rowe to push higher up the pitch and give Rovers more of the balance McSheffrey referenced.
On the bench, both Charlie Seaman and AJ Greaves are among the substitutes after their returns from injury.
And the opposition
New signing Ellis Harrison - whose arrival at Fleetwood was only confirmed at 1pm - starts for the visitors,
McSheffrey on Fleetwood
He said: “They’ve had a little break in games with a few being called off but they had a good little run in December where they won a couple and drew one.
“They play good football and they all can handle the ball. They move it about nice so it’s going to be a tricky one.
“After our break and our Covid outbreak we struggled with the intensity against Sunderland and a few suffered physically from the break and not training fully.
“They’ve had a few days back in training and they’ll have had a lot of time to prep for this game.
“We have to expect them to come out fresh, really with a game plan to try to beat us. I’m sure they’ll have watched last week and they’ll come here fancying they can beat us.
“We’re going to put out a team capable of winning the game.”
Gary McSheffrey is confident the team he fields today is strong enough to win matches in League One - and hopefully will perform to a level that gives him breathing room in the bid to add to his squad.
He said: “We will put out a team that we feel is the best we can play with the squad that we’ve got.
“I think the team we play on Saturday, everyone will see it’s a balanced team and probably the most balanced and strongest team we could probably field. That starting XI should be good enough to win games in this league.
“I’m confident in that and it’s a no-brainer. If they can get to the standard we can play at, it gives us more time to get the number one targets in the areas we want.”
Omar Bogle has been given the all-clear for this game and will be expected to start after his impressive performance in the first half at Morecambe last weekend. The striker was forced off with a hamstring injury at the Mazuma Stadium but trained the back end of the week.
Aidan Barlow is also available after his injury at Morecambe but Dan Gardner will be out for a month.
Ro-Shaun Williams seems likely to start at centre half alongside Joseph Olowu.
And there is the possibility that both Charlie Seaman and AJ Greaves will be on the bench after both returned to training this week.