The Takeaway: Far from the send off a great man deserved - Doncaster Rovers 1 Peterborough United 4

It was meant to be an occasion fitting for a king.

Monday, 10th May 2021, 12:36 am
Updated Monday, 10th May 2021, 8:31 am

It ended up only being fitting for summing up the horrendous decline that Doncaster Rovers have toiled through during the second half of the season.

The 4-1 defeat to Peterborough United summed up how far Rovers have fallen in such a short space of time.

This was a Peterborough outfit Rovers looked all set to duke it out with for automatic promotion just a few months ago.

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James Coppinger walks out to a guard of honour. Photo: George Wood/Getty Images
James Coppinger walks out to a guard of honour. Photo: George Wood/Getty Images

Fast-forward to the final day of the campaign and Rovers were comfortably swept aside by Posh’s second string after turning in a meek, hapless performance lacking in fight and one all-too familiar of the last few months.

The way in which Rovers were sliced open was frankly embarrassing. They were consistently beaten to the ball, were slow off the mark and failed to track their men.

Too many men falling far too short of a standard on which they need to deliver.

Yet again they did not run hard enough, work hard enough nor did they stick to any sort of plan to contain the rampant opposition.

James Coppinger

And on a day when fight and commitment really should have been a given.

For James Coppinger. For 17 seasons. For a Rovers icon.

The heightened emotion was there from the start, when Coppinger walked through a guard of honour with tears in his eyes, breaking down as he waved to his family across the stadium.

But once the first whistle sounded, Rovers quickly showed they were hardly spurred on by the occasion.

After three minutes there were behind after Mo Eisa strolled through the Rovers defence and lashed in a shot. Three minutes later they were two down when Niall Mason went unchallenged as he nodded in from close range.

And every time Peterborough went forward, Rovers looked incapable of keeping them at bay.

Idris Kanu flicked in a header at the near post to stretch the advantage to three after 16 minutes. Mercifully, they did not add another goal until 39 minutes when Ricky-Jade Jones spun between defenders and rifled in.

Rovers improved in the second half - though that was not difficult.

Front and centre of them looking brighter was youngster Ben Blythe, who was handed his senior debut off the bench at the break.

The centre half was confident on the ball and showed a range of passing that put most of his much more senior team mates to shame.

On a day when there was little to be pleased about, it was heartening to see a glimpse of a potential future - though Blythe’s own is far from certain at this stage.

Coppinger himself almost produced a moment of magic with a trademark free kick that rattled the crossbar.

On 82 minutes, his Rovers career was brought to a close, with all those present in a sparsely populated stadium rising to their feet to applaud an incredible servant to the club and to the game.

In so many ways it was far from the send-off that he deserved.

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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.