Saturday Night Takeaway: From a slap on the backside to a kick in the nethers as Doncaster Rovers slump at Sunderland

Andy Butler suggested the midweek defeat at Fleetwood Town could have been the slap on the backside that Doncaster Rovers needed to put them back on the right track.

By Liam Hoden
Saturday, 13th February 2021, 6:35 pm
Updated Sunday, 14th February 2021, 8:10 am

Well, what sort of effect will a result akin to a boot to the nether region do for Rovers?

If the loss at Fleetwood left them with plenty to ponder, the 4-1 mauling at Sunderland left them with wounds to lick and, yet again, little time to heal.

And you could throw in a few more questions that need to be answered among all that.

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Rovers cut dejected figures as they concede again against Sunderland. Picture: Craig Brough/AHPIX

Yet again they failed to use the ball nearly well enough. Yet again that brought unnecessary pressure and saw them fail to craft and create in the manner with which they built their success this season.

In recent games - notably the wins over Lincoln and Oxford - they got away with a lack of fluency because they were incredibly resolute in defence.

But, just like at Fleetwood, that tremendous backbone was brittle and broke apart far too easily.

Rovers have to get to grips with the fact they conceded four goals from four free headers. All netted by Charlie Wyke. All supplied by Aiden McGeady.

Once can be accounted for, and maybe even twice at a stretch. But four identical efforts is unforgivable.

McGeady was a terror all while he was on the pitch, as a player of his quality should be at this level. But there was a failure to provide Brad Halliday with the support he desperately needed to keep McGeady quiet.

And the freedom afforded to Wyke was scandalous. It would be easy to point to the absence of Tom Anderson for the last two games but such things simply do not happen under the captain’s watch.

Arguably even more disappointing than the manner of the goals conceded was the fact Rovers need not have been at arms length away from Sunderland for so long.

They produced a bright spell after falling two goals down, taking advantage of an incredibly open game to start to push forward.

But their progress was halted as they were cut open so easily and found themselves 3-0 down after 31 minutes.

There was a chance to reset at half time and the introduction of John Bostock gave Rovers some control.

And it was enough to ensure there was a glimmer of hope that all was not lost after a Taylor Richards shot rattled off the post, hit Sunderland keeper Lee Burge and went in.

But before any thoughts of a dramatic comeback could settle in, a matter of seconds later, Wyke popped up to head in from McGeady, with the indignity of the ball scuffing off Cameron John’s head to take it away from Ellery Balcombe.

Rovers’ best period came after this point when they moved the ball around well and got into spaces. But it was of no consolation with only Josh Sims’ return a real bright spot.

Days like this have not come around often in the last couple of years.

This was certainly the worst combination of result and performance during Darren Moore’s time in charge.

But there is no time for feeling sorry for themselves with another game, against another strong side, coming up at some point in the next midweek.

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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.