Rochdale draw suggests Doncaster Rovers are more at home away from home: Analysis

Doncaster Rovers have twice as many away games remaining on their schedule than they do home matches.

Sunday, 9th February 2020, 2:00 pm

And that might not necessarily be a bad thing.

A team with genuine aspirations might baulk at the prospect of having five home games and ten away standing between them and potential glory. A campaign as disrupted and unsettled as Rovers may well have derailed some sides.

But this Rovers team look to have a greater strength on their travels. Certainly so on more recent evidence, since Darren Moore’s side have enjoyed an upsurge in form.

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Ben Whiteman gets involved in a tussle against Rochdale
Ben Whiteman gets involved in a tussle against Rochdale

There appears to be a larger degree of assuredness in away matches, a clearer grasp of the game plan and how to implement it to bring success.

At home, where the onus is initially on Rovers to dictate the pattern of game, they are less imposing and have a tougher time dominating play as they have done on the road.

In the last few months they have rarely grabbed a game by the throat at the Keepmoat in quite the same manner as they have away.

Saturday’s clash with Rochdale presented Rovers with a real opportunity to do just that, but one that ultimately they failed to take.

Jon Taylor celebrates his goal against Rochdale.

Jon Taylor’s ingenious goal after 46 seconds - using his shoulder to turn in Kieran Sadlier’s excellent cross - gave them the foundations on which to build a strong victory against a side that have struggled to see out matches.

But it was Rochdale who possessed the tools for building while Rovers looked a little lost.

There is a well worn cliche about the dangers of scoring ‘too early.’ It could have been applied on this occasion.

It presented both sides with a task at hand to get the win and almost 90 minutes in which to do it. Rochdale embraced their challenge. Rovers looked unsure of theirs.

It was a difficult second outing for Jacob Ramsey in a Doncaster Rovers shirt

Barring a ten minute spell after Rovers went ahead, the visitors dominated the ball and controlled the midfield as they searched for the equaliser.

A Rovers midfield that devastatingly conquered Tranmere Rovers four days earlier looked shorn of ideas and a little leggy as Rochdale sprayed the ball around the pitch with aplomb.

It was the difficult second album for loan star Jacob Ramsey while Madger Gomes looked a shadow of the player he has become in recent weeks with neither able to either enjoy possession or disrupt the opposition nearly enough.

What aided Rovers was that for all Dale’s possession and eye-catching passing, they always looked toothless in the final third.

Seny Dieng, though uncharacteristically untidy with the manner in which he claimed crosses, had very little to do throughout the afternoon with his defence rebuffing Rochdale’s advances before they even had the opportunity to be converted into shots on goal.

Rovers, despite lacking control, could easily have had a hatful of goals.

Kieran Sadlier - a player renewed in an out-and-out winger role - hit the post after cutting inside. Devante Cole somehow turned over the bar from two yards out after a goalmouth scramble. And Sadlier saw an effort hacked clear off the line in the later stages.

But it was only when Oliver Rathbone lashed in the equaliser nine minutes from time that Rovers truly woke up. It was no coincidence that it came after it was more emphatic what they needed to do to win the game.

Frustratingly, it took a defensive lapse to awake them, with Rathbone carrying the ball too far, for too long under no pressure and then taking his opportunity to fire home from 25 yards.

There was to be no late Rovers heroics, though they definitely should have had a penalty after Brad Halliday was hauled down in the box as he ran to meet a ball over the top.

Moore, rightly so, did not wish to use the incident to distract from the facts as to why Rovers deservedly did not win the game.

Not to worry anyway. Seven of the next ten matches are on the road.