Story of the game as Doncaster Rovers are well beaten by Sunderland
The wait for confirmation of a new manager may go on but Doncaster Rovers have the small matter of the return to action against a top promotion contender – and you can follow it as it happens.
Join us for the Eco-Power Stadium’s debut as Rovers host Sunderland in their first game for more than a fortnight. Remember to REFRESH regularly for the latest updates.
Rovers 0 Sunderland 3
Last updated: Monday, 27 December, 2021, 14:37
GOAL: Stewart (7 pen), Embleton (41), Blythe o.g. (50)
ROVERS: Jones; Knoyle, Olowu, Blythe, Horton; Hasani (Bogle 46), Ravenhill (Gardner 61), Smith; Rowe, Dodoo (Barlow 76), Hiwula. Subs: Dahlberg, Faulkner, Williams, Cukur.
SUNDERLAND: Hoffmann, Wright, Flanagan, Doyle, Gooch, Evans (Cirkin 57), Neil, Dajaku, Embleton, Pritchard (Hume 74), Stewart (Harris 82). Subs: Burge, Alves, Younger, Kimpioka.
REFEREE: Bobby Madley (West Yorkshire)
ATTENDANCE: 10,751 (4,072 away)
A hugely difficult afternoon
It always looked like being an especially tough task for Rovers given the inexperience of the side sent out to face one of the division’s most formidable outfits - and it certainly played out that way.
The visitors barely got out of second gear all afternoon and didn’t need to against feeble Rovers who could not be faulted for their running but draw praise for little else.
They were so easily played through all afternoon and it felt as though if Sunderland stepped up their efforts then they could easily have scored more.
Rovers offered so little going the other way until the game was already dead and buried. A lack of movement in the first half made them so easy to snuff out by an opposition who were so comfortable.
For all the positive baby steps forward in recent weeks, this felt like a day when they were brought crashing back down to earth.
2.21pm ALL OVER
A grim, grim 3-0 defeat for Rovers
2.16pm ADDED TIME
A well worked short corner routine sees Matt Smith push the ball into the centre where Tommy Rowe struck it first time, only to see the ball blocked out.
76min Goal....but no
Denver Hume turns in from close range for Sunderland but is flagged offside
Aidan Barlow replaces the injured Joe Dodoo
Joe Dodoo drills the ball across the face of goal and Branden Horton races in to meet it on the angle, firing on goal and forcing a save from Sunderland’s Ron-Thorben Hoffman.
Dan Gardner replaces Liam Ravenhill
Elliot Embleton smashes a shot off the outside of the post
59min Huge block
Tommy Rowe slides in with a stunning block as Dan Neil looked set to slot home from close range
52min A SHOT!
Rovers actually managed to have an attempt and Jordy Hiwula even managed to force a save from Ron-Thorben Hoffman after racing onto a loose ball and firing a first time effort from the edge of the box.
Well I never.
50min GOAL Sunderland
Ben Blythe turns the ball into his own goal from a yard out.
Lynden Gooch powered to the byline and sent the ball across, Alex Pritchard flicked it on further and Blythe put it in his own net as he attempted to block.
Disastrous start to the second half.
1.31pm Back underway
Half time change
Omar Bogle replaces Lirak Hasani for Rovers
That was a difficult opening 45 minutes to watch.
Rovers have barely had a kick in the opposition half and next to no threat.
Sunderland have been happy to drop the majority of the players back whenever Rovers have had the ball and they’ve so easily nullified whatever Gary McSheffrey’s side have produced in response. The movement off the ball is so poor, forcing passes to go backwards or sidewards all the time.
And Sunderland are by far the quickest to react when possession is turned over - as shown by their second goal which was far too simple.
Sunderland have barely got out of second gear all half and they are about as comfortable as they could be in their lead.
1.16pm That’s the break
And Rovers trail 2-0 at half time
1.15pm ADDED TIME
44min Important save
Sunderland’s Tom Flanagan rises highest from a corner and powers a header on goal which Louis Jones punches off his line.
41min GOAL Sunderland
Elliot Embleton drills in a second for the hosts.
Again, far too easy for the visitors to play their way through the Rovers defence. Embleton picks up the ball 12 yards out and clips forces a shot beyond Jones.
A ball out from the back found Alex Pritchard in space inside the box and he hooked inside to Embleton, who had the space to take a touch and send the ball home.
It’s all so easy as Sunderland snake their way through the Rovers defence with Dan Neil powering into the box. He is forced wide and tries to poke a shot beyond Louis Jones but finds the sidenetting.
Louis Jones races away from his goal to make a clearance but drops it straight at the feet of Corry Evans, who fires a shot towards the empty net from 45 yards only for it to drop wide.
26min Hard going
Rovers are battling well and throwing themselves in front of everything but that is extent of the positives so far in this game.
They have barely had a kick in the opposition half and cannot sustain possession for more than a few seconds whenever they advance up the pitch.
Sunderland are dominating this one and it looks an awfully long way back from here.
19min Fine save
Alex Pritchard breaks forward into space before powering a shot from 20 yards which Louis Jones tipped away superbly.
Alex Pritchard curls a free kick narrowly wide from the edge of the area. Rovers well up against it early
6min GOAL Sunderland
Ross Stewart slots his penalty into the bottom corner.
5min Penalty to Sunderland
Branden Horton tripped Leon Dajaku. Ross Stewart will take.
Indecision throughout the defence put them in a vulnerable position with Blythe electing to drop into the box rather than tracking the wide man, leaving Ravenhill with plenty to do as he chased down Dajaku, who cut past him with ease before a careless leg was stuck out by Horton.
1min Back four for Rovers
Rovers have indeed gone with a 4-3-2-1 system from the off this afternoon.
And for the first time at the Eco-Power Stadium, we have kick-off. Alex Pritchard gets the game underway for Sunderland
The team is in
And it’s TWO changes from the side that started the previous game against Shrewsbury Town.
Out go - and they’re about as big a miss respectively that you could get - are Tom Anderson and Ethan Galbraith with youngsters Ben Blythe and Liam Ravenhill coming in.
Anderson and Galbraith miss out entirely, giving Rovers a very youthful edge this afternoon for one of the toughest tests of the season.
The graphic above is a bit of a guess on the system but I’ve plumped for it due to the added protection for the defence. We’ll see shortly how Rovers actually shape up.
And the opposition
Former Rovers loanee Lynden Gooch starts for the visitors
Confirmation of the Rovers side will be interesting as we are unclear on just who will be available for the game.
The outbreak of Covid wiped out a good chunk of the senior squad almost a fortnight ago, with the majority only returning to training on Boxing Day.
We know Tom Anderson is a major doubt, with the minuscule amount of information provided about his injury doing little to quash rumours he is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
It seems highly unlikely that any injured players will be returning this afternoon - unless Gary McSheffrey was not being entirely truthful with his squad update.
There very easily could be a patched-up nature to Rovers’ squad this afternoon.