Saturday Night Takeaway: You don't always get what you deserve as Doncaster Rovers prove in fortunate Sunderland draw

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Sometimes you don’t get what you deserve in football.

Most often such a statement is made when bemoaning failure to turn good play into goals and getting a positive result.

On this occasion it said with a sigh of relief at the fact Doncaster Rovers managed to rescue a point from the jaws of what would have been a deserved defeat to Sunderland.

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Fejiri Okenabirhie’s injury time equaliser saw Rovers rewarded for determination to chase such an outcome right to the end. They could so easily have been resigned to their fate.

Fejiri Okenabirhie hooks home the equaliser against Sunderland. Picture: Howard Roe/AHPIXFejiri Okenabirhie hooks home the equaliser against Sunderland. Picture: Howard Roe/AHPIX
Fejiri Okenabirhie hooks home the equaliser against Sunderland. Picture: Howard Roe/AHPIX

But it was all they deserved to be rewarded for in a game where they were decidedly second best for the majority.

Sunderland succeeded in shutting Rovers down during a dominant first half.

Key to it was the bold move to hand striker Charlie Wyke a man-marking job on Ben Whiteman which he delivered superbly, at the cost of his own attacking threat.

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But there was also the close attention given to Rovers’ full backs to prevent them from taking up their usual position high up the pitch, or the pressing of the centre halves to prevent them playing out from the back.

Rovers were penned in and neutralised, making any attempt to play forward futile. The ball just kept coming back towards them.

Thankfully for Rovers, Sunderland struggled for threat of their own. While the pressure was great, particularly in the first half, Rovers did a good job preventing the visitors from converting it into clear chances, meaning new goalkeeper Joe Lumley was not overworked on a pretty impressive debut.

And it took something special to break the deadlock, when Grant Leadbitter sent a layoff darting into the top corner from close to 35 yards just before the break.

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Rovers enjoyed more of the play after the break. Sunderland inexplicably failed to pursue the same approach they had adopted in the first half while Rovers worked spaces much better.

But the hosts were struggling for inspiration in attack and struggled to break down an organised Sunderland back line.

Defeat seemed inevitable on what would have gone down as a disappointing, lacklustre afternoon.

But Brad Halliday took the initiative, powered into the box and squared. The ball ricocheted off several legs before Okenabirhie hooked home from close range.

A fortunate goal to earn a fortunate point.

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There are lessons to be learned, certainly. Questions again will be asked of Rovers’ ability to work their own way out of trouble when an opposition side seeks to stifle them.

But credit must go to the opposition for the way in which they handled Rovers in the first half. A side of the stature and resources of Sunderland showed Rovers tremendous respect - so there is a positive in that.

That will be of scant consolation to those of a Black Cat persuasion as they bemoan two points dropped and the opportunity for a win so sloppily given away.

But, as they say, sometimes you don’t get what you deserve in football.


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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