Midweek Takeaway: The joyous present was not delivered but there is no reason to be downhearted about Doncaster Rovers

With each passing year there is the realisation that you cannot always get what you want for Christmas.

Tuesday, 22nd December 2020, 11:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 23rd December 2020, 1:11 am

And the big present missing for a lot of Doncaster Rovers supporters will be their side sitting top of League One for the big day.

The prospect of such a trinket had been dangled tantalisingly in front of faces for the previous week only to be yanked away by an incredibly frustrating narrow defeat to resurgent Shrewsbury Town.

But there is no reason whatsoever for Rovers fans to be blue this Christmas.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Tyreece John-Jules battles with Shrewsbury Town goalscorer Aaron Pierre. Picture: Andrew Roe/AHPIX

The manner in which they gave themselves a chance of going top through a blistering pre-festive run should be enough to hearten anyone of a Doncaster persuasion.

They answered question after question to overcome a variety of tests - particularly those with which they struggled in the early stages of the season.

And they signed off for Christmas with a performance that showed as the wins mounted up, so did the confidence in the camp.

In the first half at least.

They played with a good degree of swagger and unwavering determination to dominate the opening period. The movement of the ball was quite stunning at times and the composure with which everyone in the side operated was a joy to behold.

Shrewsbury struggled to contain Rovers as they had sought to do and offered very little going in the other direction.

What was missing for Rovers was the all important goal to make their dominance count.

There was a lack of a killer pass in the final third, and few real clear cut opportunities.

And, in failing to edge ahead in the first half, it meant there was opportunity for Shrewsbury to reset at the break - which they did to great effect.

A switch to a 4-3-3 gave the visitors greater presence higher up the pitch and eased the pressure, making the opening of the second half a much more open affair as Rovers struggled to get to grips with the shift.

And the decisive moment came on 53 minutes when Aaron Pierre headed in from a wide free kick to put Shrewsbury ahead.

With that, they dropped incredibly deep and invited Rovers to break them down, which proved a struggle due to the sheer number of bodies.

Rovers got back on the ball but could not find any real breakthrough. Their only gilt edged chance saw Tyreece John-Jules turn a header on goal which Shrewsbury keeper Matyjia Sarkic somehow palmed over the bar from the goalline.

For a side that scores so regularly - this game ended a run of 15 matches where they found the net each time - there are the continued questions over the ruthlessness in the final third.

And after answering so many others in recent weeks, it is the largest remaining aspect of their game which they are yet to fully overcome.

But, again, that should drag no one down over this festive period.

There is not much to be happy about right now but you can be satisfied, optimistic and confident about Doncaster Rovers.

Merry Christmas.

*

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. Nancy Fielder, editor.