Richie Wellens 'happy with first 65 minutes' of Doncaster Rovers' friendly win at Harrogate Town

He may demand room for improvement in several areas but Richie Wellens was largely pleased with Doncaster Rovers’ performance in their final friendly of pre-season.

Sunday, 1st August 2021, 5:52 pm
Richie Wellens gives instructions during the friendly at Harrogate Town. Picture: Steve Flynn/AHPIX

Wellens was hoping for positive signs against a Harrogate Town side he believes share a similar style to several teams Rovers will face this season.

After emerging with a 3-2 win from Wetherby Road, Wellens was satisfied with some of what he witnessed.

“I thought it was a good game in terms of being more realistic about what we will face in our league games.

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“My defenders had to head the ball a lot. We had to defend a load of set plays and a lot of high balls.

“We’re going to play a lot of teams in League One who do that. If we can get us winning the first ball, then great, but if not we need to be in the right positions to pick up second balls.

“Harrogate are a team that is very effective in getting the ball forward, they’ve got powerful runners and a lot of energy so I thought it was a good test for us.

“If it was an FA Cup tie, for 65 minutes I was really happy because we were winning 3-1 and were just about to kill them off.

“But we made a mistake and the momentum changes.”

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Kyle Knoyle netted in the first half to put Rovers ahead before goals from Aidan Barlow and trialist Dan Gardner moved them clear after Jack Muldoon equalised for the hosts.

Luke Armstrong pulled a goal back for Harrogate and Wellens admitted he was disappointed with both strikes conceded by his side.

“I’m frustrated with the first goal because we’re in the wrong starting position from a set play but we also didn’t mark a free runner into the box,” he said.

“And then we responded fantastic from that, got two quick goals and for the next 15 minutes had them in the palm of our hand.

“Then make a stupid error and give another goal away.

“If that was a league match then the momentum would change and become a lot tougher than what it was.

“I thought our subs were poor when they came on. They didn’t give us any energy or impetus and for the last five minutes we were just hanging on.”

The Rovers boss was also looking for better decision making from his side as they moved into the final third.

He said: “We do need to keep working on our penetration when we find pockets.

“Half a dozen times we found a pocket of space where we could roll our strikers in and we’ve tried switching the ball, which isn’t what we need and we get countered when we should be finishing attacks.

“The front players need to demand the ball. In the second half we played some good balls through but Omar [Bogle] was the wrong side or he didn’t make the run quick enough or show the person where to put the ball.

“At times it was sketchy.

“But there were a load of good things and I think our energy was good to match them because Harrogate are an established team where we’re a new and developing team.

“All in all I think it was a really good exercise.”

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