The OTHER talking points from Doncaster Rovers' dramatic draw with Hull City

On a day dedicated to his unrivalled service to Doncaster Rovers, James Coppinger produced a golden moment to solidify himself as THE talking point from the clash with Hull City.

By Liam Hoden
Sunday, 21st February 2021, 12:00 pm

His stunning free kick 12 minutes into added time earned a hard fought and deserved point for Rovers against promotion rivals Hull City to end the losing run with an important result.

The fact he did it wearing the kit he himself designed was the icing on the cake.

But before he truly took centre stage, there were plenty of other talking points from Rovers’ afternoon.

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Jacob Greaves heads in Hull's third after more questionable defending from Rovers. Picture: Howard Roe/AHPIX

A CATASTROPHIC FLAW

Before Coppinger’s late, late heroics, the major talking point of the day would have been the manner in which Rovers contrived to shoot themselves in the foot yet again.

After the incredible defensive resilience demonstrated within the first few weeks of 2021, Rovers’ resistance now looks paper thin, particularly when it comes to dealing with crosses into the box.

All three goals came from aerial deliveries, with three relatively free headers from close range. It sounds painfully familiar.

Omar Bogle slams in from the penalty spot for his first goal for Rovers. Picture: Andrew Roe/AHPIX

Mallik Wilks - hardly renowned for his aerial ability during his excellent loan spell with Rovers - easily brushed off the attention of Taylor Richards to scuff in a header at the back post from a free kick at the byline.

And it was even easier for him to get in ahead of Reece James to nod in a fine cross from Greg Docherty.

Arguably most frustrating of all was the third, as it looked to have killed off a potential fightback from Rovers after James had lashed in superbly just after the half hour.

Zonal marking failed to pick up towering centre half Jacob Greaves, allowing him to power onto the end of a corner and head in.

Referee Charles Breakspear was at the centre of controversy during Rovers' draw with Hull City. Picture: Andrew Roe/AHPIX

Had it not been for the bravery of returning captain Tom Anderson, there would have been at least two more goals conceded.

He threw himself in front of two goalbound shots - spearing his own goalkeeper in his determination to get his head to one - to keep them out.

And the rage he showed towards his teammates after rising to his feet after the second block told the story of his own frustration at what was going on around him.

Right now, such woeful defending is a major flaw that could prove catastrophic for Rovers’ promotion chances.

John Bostock was excellent after coming off the bench at half time against Hull. Picture: Howard Roe/AHPIX

And in the main it is down to a lack of concentration at key moments from a wide variety of guilty parties.

THE NEW METRONOME?

Ben Whiteman was often described as the player that dictated the rhythm of Rovers, who controlled their attacking play from the middle of the park.

His departure therefore created an issue to be addressed because the manner in which Rovers play requires such a figure.

While Matt Smith has ably stepped into Whiteman’s shoes in the deepest lying midfield position, he is perhaps not as natural a fit - as showcased by the positive impact he delivers when allowed to move further up the pitch.

Rovers were excellent in the second half, and a big reason for that was the presence of John Bostock.

After his introduction at the break, he sat deep, around the half way line and dictated Rovers’ play with excellent passing and real composure on the ball.

It has taken him a few games to shake off the understandable rust and get up to speed with things, but he is showing signs of becoming a majorly important figure in the Rovers camp.

Hull sat deep and invited Rovers on but it needed composure and drive to make the attacking dominance count rather than peter out as they repeatedly found a closed door.

Bostock was huge in that and suggested there are plenty more days in that ilk to come.

REFEREE FRUSTRATION

Former Rovers boss Grant McCann pointed both barrels at referee Charles Breakspear after the game, with particular annoyance at the decision to award Rovers a penalty and the free kick which Coppinger curled home.

But both camps had reason to be unhappy with the official over several decisions - including two huge penalty shouts for Rovers before the much softer one they were awarded.

As for McCann’s comments about the influence of the ‘crowd’ at the Keepmoat, the less said about that the better.

THE FOCAL POINT

Another big player in the game was Omar Bogle, and not just because he got off the mark for Rovers with his well struck penalty.

With Hull sitting in and making the final third of the pitch incredibly congested, Rovers needed a point where the ball would stick and someone who could provide the little touches to take them through the crowd.

Bogle delivered on that, with strength, power and excellent control to give Rovers the focal point they required.

Of all the new arrivals, the striker has made the most consistently positive impact on Rovers and this was his best contribution so far.

THE CONFIDENCE BOOSTER

The previous ten days had delivered big question marks over Rovers’ ability to last the course in a competitive promotion race.

Error-strewn defeats to Fleetwood and Sunderland had suggested, rightly or wrongly, that they were a declining force in the battle at the top of the table.

While there was improvement against Accrington Stanley, it could not end the losing run and certainly needed to be built upon.

And although they did not return to winning ways against Hull, the events of the day should provide a considerable boost to confidence and faith that they have what it takes to compete.

They more than deserved a point for their efforts - and could even have ended up with all three with Tom Anderson popping up with a late header that was saved.

But the fact it felt very much like a win due to the manner of the conclusion, and with an excellent second half performance under their belts, they should stroll forward with chests puffed out.

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