The Takeaway: Shortcomings away from home exposed again as Doncaster Rovers lose at Blackpool

This was a game that brought to an end Doncaster Rovers' road run for the season - and not many will be mournful of its passing.

Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 10:07 pm

A 2-0 defeat at Blackpool was a fitting send off from a disappointing away campaign where Rovers have largely failed to impose themselves on matches on alien turf.

Though their missing out on the play-offs has come down to the poor form of the last three months, looking for broad weaknesses across the whole of the campaign lands you at the door of Rovers' away form.

Only two sides outside the relegation zone have lost more away games this term than Rovers.

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Doncaster Rovers player-manager Andy Butler battles with Blackpool's Jerry Yates.

If they are to make a more concerted effort of getting out of the third tier next season, improving their fortunes away from home is a must.

As will be finding ways in which to overcome unsettling tactics of opposition teams that were often their undoing even before their poor decline.

Rovers had started brightly at a rain-lashed Bloomfield Road, countering a strong press from the opposition with quick movement of the ball and good movement.

But the minute they eased off even slightly in their efforts, it played straight into Blackpool’s hands.

It has been a cold hard fact this term that whenever an opposition team has put pressure on the Rovers back line, or closed down the space in order to cut off the supply forward, they have struggled to overcome it.

Blackpool - searching for a solitary point to confirm their participation in the play-offs - were supremely organised and packed with energy.

They got in Rovers’ faces, forcing them deeper and deeper which left a dynamic front four cut off. It nullified any threat Rovers posed as well as forcing errors that gave Blackpool plenty of joy.

Unfortunately, it was a combination of errors that led to Blackpool opening the scoring, rather than their own approach. Tom Anderson was well off his attempt to beat Jerry Yates to a high ball and Andy Butler’s attempt to play Ellis Simms offside allowed the big striker to break through and slam home a shot which looped in off Louis Jones’ foot.

It was a big blow for Rovers. And as they found themselves firmly second best in general play terms, it seemed to be a long way back.

The introduction of AJ Greaves off the bench at half time aided their cause. The combative young midfielder rushed and harried the opposition and was able to take up positions much higher up the pitch than the midfield had previously done.

Key to staying in touch too was Jones, who is finishing the season superbly after returning to the side. An excellent string of saves, including a brilliant one at full stretch from Luke Garbutt, deserved to be rewarded with a clean sheet.

And it was an unfortunate turn of events that led to him conceding for a second time. Making himself big to deny Simms, the ball struck him in the throat and ricocheted straight back for the striker to poke home.

The game was up at that point, Blackpool were in the play-offs and their supporters outside the ground were in full voice - delivering another reminder to Rovers of what might have been.

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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.