The Takeaway: An all-too familiar feeling of frustration as Doncaster Rovers blow play-off hopes at Accrington Stanley

Just as soon as it was there, it was gone again.

Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 10:18 pm
Updated Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 10:24 pm

After bringing League One’s top six back into view at the weekend, four days later it disappeared off into the distance and most likely out of reach for good.

The worst part about it for Doncaster Rovers was they were the architects of their own downfall at Accrington Stanley.

They had found themselves in the unlikely position of heading towards a decent enough point after wrestling themselves level in a game where they were decidedly second best.

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Ellery Balcombe

But then, thanks to a rash decision from Ellery Balcombe following sloppy goalkeeping, it all disappeared in stoppage time.

A thoroughly frustrating defeat that undid plenty of hard work. An all too familiar story.

Rovers were bullied out of the game in the first half but rallied after the break to make a game of it by bringing an attacking threat that was woefully lacking previously.

Lining up with a loan striker against a back three simply did not work - not that there were any other options at the disposal of Andy Butler, who again named himself at centre half.

Balls into Fejiri Okenabirhie were all too easily cut out, while there appeared to be an intent to spring the striker beyond the Accrington back line which did not play to his strengths at all.

Quality on the ball was lacking too, which hardly aided their cause.

Rovers could not be accused of not working hard enough, but they were certainly outbattled by their hosts who were quicker to everything throughout the opening 45 minutes. More key was the fact that they were simply stronger and smarter in key areas.

Yet, Okenabirhie missed the best chance of the first half when he fired over the bar from a glorious position.

Rovers had been grateful to Balcombe for a series of decent saves to keep the scores level but he could do little about the goal which gave Accrington the lead.

Joe Wright slid in on Sean McConville as he retreated out of the area and the Stanley man tumbled, with referee Anthony Backhouse pointing straight to the spot. Dion Charles sent Balcombe the wrong way.

Accrington’s lead brought greater space in the middle of the park in the second half and Rovers began to look the more threatening.

But it was the introduction of Tyreece John-Jules on the hour that made all the difference. The Arsenal striker brought an injection of energy, pace and directness that Rovers had lacked.

And he had them level after a powerful run through the middle was capped with a great finish into the bottom corner.

John-Jules could easily have put Rovers ahead soon after when he raced clear, only to draw a good save from Accrington keeper Toby Savin.

It was a key moment. Just not THE key moment.

That was to come in stoppage time when Balcombe fumbled an easy take from a free kick and raced after the ball, felling McConville on the byline with the Accrington midfielder heading away from goal.

Charles made no mistake from the spot to put Accrington back in front and leave Rovers with that familiar feeling of frustration.

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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. Liam Hoden, editor.