Midweek Takeaway: Real Doncaster Rovers go missing on hugely disappointing night at unhappy hunting ground

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If any Doncaster Rovers side was going to end the club’s Highbury hoodoo, surely it was this one?

A side that had won nine of their previous ten league matches, showing tremendous resolve and fighting spirit to hold off rampant and high-flying opposition to move within touching distance of top spot in League One.

Some hoodoos however are made to last and Rovers’ winless run at Highbury goes on.

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But blaming a 3-1 defeat at Fleetwood Town on a hex would be glossing over a hugely disappointing night for Darren Moore’s men.

Kyle Vassell fires in the equaliser for Fleetwood against Rovers. Picture: Steve Flynn/AHPIXKyle Vassell fires in the equaliser for Fleetwood against Rovers. Picture: Steve Flynn/AHPIX
Kyle Vassell fires in the equaliser for Fleetwood against Rovers. Picture: Steve Flynn/AHPIX

There was promise at the start with the injection of fresh blood in John Bostock and Scott Robertson, lining up in a rejigged 4-3-3 system with the promise of technical prowess and creativity, while Omar Bogle made his first appearance on the bench.

And then there was a brilliant goal from Jason Lokilo on eight minutes, latching onto a wonderful raking pass from Matt Smith before cutting inside and lashing in at the near post.

But ultimately the positivity would end with the early excitement as Rovers failed to live up to their promise and what had been shown so regularly in recent weeks.

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There was some nice play in the middle of the park at times, but in the middle of the park is where it remained, with acres of space left between them and the forwards.

It led to a complete lack of Rovers’ usual attacking verve and explosiveness, particularly as new legs showed increasing signs of rust as the first half wore on.

As the neatness in midfield began to evade Rovers, it saw hope of adding to their score evaporate into the bitterly cold night with attacking players increasingly isolated in a hopeless cause.

And it only invited on a Fleetwood side that had started the game bristling with energy as they begin to find their feet under new boss Simon Grayson.

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They pressed hard, moved the ball fast and harried Rovers all over the pitch. And sloppiness from Moore’s men played straight into the hands of their hosts.

Rovers showed good resolve - the type that has been so vital in delivering the most noteworthy recent results.

But it went wrong spectacularly in a second half collapse that was unrecognisable from 99 per cent of what has previously been offered under Moore’s tenure.

In a six minute spell, the game was turned on its head.

Sloppiness from a corner allowed Kyle Vassell to lash in the equaliser before Fleetwood were gifted the opportunity to go ahead with an awful backpass from half way from Madger Gomes before Ellery Balcombe unwisely raced out of his box and was beaten to the ball by Paddy Madden who fired into an empty net.

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With Rovers well off the pace, looking flatfooted and lacking in energy, there was little confidence of finding a route back, even with the welcome injection of Bogle’s physicality off the bench.

And former Rovers full back Danny Andrew smashed in a superb effort two minutes from time to put the game to bed.

Teams rarely just keep winning but how they respond to setbacks shows just how well they are set up for success.

There is plenty to respond to after a night when the real Rovers failed to show.


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.

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