A stocking full of ruthlessness would be handy for Doncaster Rovers: Analysis of frustrating draw with Accrington Stanley

All Doncaster Rovers want for Christmas is a streak of ruthlessness.

Sunday, 22nd December 2019, 11:45 am
Updated Monday, 23rd December 2019, 12:15 am
Jon Taylor celebrates his goal with James Coppinger. Picture: Marie Caley

The lack of that spite in front of goal proved costly yet again as Rovers were pegged back in a game in which they should have been out of sight.

Accrington Stanley snatched a late point at the Keepmoat, delivering an all-too familiar feeling for frustrated supporters desperate for sight of a Rovers win.

In the league that wait is now at five matches. In all competitions, a victory has only been seen one in the last ten games.

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Cameron John carries the ball forward. Picture: Marie Caley

So Rovers kicked off the busy festive period with a disappointing result.

Another occasion where they have lacked the killer touch in the final third.

Another occasion when the opposition have been the ones to dictate the pattern of the game.

Another occasion with the feeling of overwhelming frustration at full time.

Tom Anderson cuts out a pass. Picture: Marie Caley

It was a game that never had the opportunity to deliver entertainment. Accrington saw to that.

While a side that are very neat and tidy on the ball and who are determined to attack, they are adept at the darker arts and all too eager to break play up by any means necessary.

And when that approach is as successful as it was on Saturday, all power to them.

Rovers again failed to overcome the approach of an opposition side. They failed to find their flow in the areas of the pitch that truly matter.

Jon Taylor celebrates his goal for Rovers. Picture: Marie Caley

Accrington were happy to concede space in the middle of the pitch and Rovers responded with some good, cohesive attacking play that took them up the pitch.

But when they dared to push into the final third, they were stopped either with cynical play from the opposition, or the brick wall Accrington had erected.

Though Madger Gomes performed really well as his understudy, Ben Whiteman's absence, due to a knee injury, was felt. Mostly that came in attacking areas.

Rovers were afforded plenty of space around the entry point to the final third - the part of the pitch where the skipper is perhaps most dangerous, either through incisive passing into danger areas or with shots from distance of his own.

If Rovers are going to shake themselves out of their current funk, they need to take the opportunities when they come.

Jon Taylor certainly did that, despite not being at his best for much of the contest.

He latched onto a stunning through ball from James Coppinger and finished well after racing clear in trademark fashion.

But such clinical finishing was absent when Rakish Bingham completely miscued a free header from a fine cross, wasting a golden opportunity to put Rovers back in front after Offerande Zanzala levelled eight minutes from time with a scrappy finish from a corner.

It is such results that further highlights areas where Rovers need attention in the transfer window.

Enough has been written about the need for attacking reinforcements, to the extent it now goes without saying.

But the performance of Kwame Thomas demonstrated that Rovers are currently - certainly until Niall Ennis is back up to full speed - lacking a striker up to the standards of League One.

Thomas lacked physicality throughout and was far too easily bundled over in the sort of challenges for the ball expected of him as a target man. And the timing of his runs to meet long balls forward was woefully off.

His signing was a stop-gap, covering the addition that was not made in August. Rovers need to ensure next month that Thomas' status remains as so.

The January sales will be pivotal in how the second half of the season shapes up for Rovers.

But before that they need to hope Father Christmas delivers what they need before the new year ticks over.