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Doncaster Rovers 0 Watford 0 (26/11/2011) 26/11/2011

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

Five thunks from a blustery Keepmoat Stadium

1- Bottom line, it’s an away point.  An away point against a limited, disjointed if unpredictable Doncaster side, but a point more than we’d accumulated from our previous four away trips.  In an open first half we fashioned plenty of chances;  Iwelumo put through to shank a shot into the stand, Kightly taking advantage of his marker backing off in the box to fire narrowly wide, Mariappa and Sordell both forcing a save from Ikeme with a sharp turn and shot, Yeates given space on the edge of the area to chest down and volley over a crowded penalty box to force another decent stop.  So… more than a little frustrating that for the fourth time in five away trips we failed to find the net.  On the other hand… whilst Loach was troubled rather less than his opposite number, El Hadji Diouf in particular found good space wide in early exchanges, whipping balls across the box that the keeper would have been helpless to repel had either Sharp or Fortuné connected.  The home side had plenty of possession, ten corners, and yet were kept at arm’s length for the most part – Dyche was right to credit a tight defensive performance, even if we rode our luck a couple of times.  A fair result, then, and if we win the massive game with Bristol City on Tuesday it’ll look like a great result.

2- A return to the side for John Eustace, who dug in well and stomped all over Rovers’ midfield as the game petered out, stifling any home attacks before they started.  An interesting selection decision for Tuesday night, then, with the return of Jonathan Hogg from suspension;  one option might be to play both – not in a two, which has comprehensively failed to work so far, but sitting behind Buaben, giving him the freedom to push up behind Iwelumo with Kightly and Yeates cutting in from wide.  Sordell’s injury – assuming it keeps him out – deprives the side of pace as well as quality, and had a big impact on our threat in this one, a loss that will be difficult to compensate for; this approach might permit us to accommodate two of our better players whilst freeing up the wide players from defensive responsibility.

3- Doncaster are a side going through a mid-life crisis.  Having for so long been the epitome of sensible management, clever buys, good kids, it’s as if they woke up one morning and decided to pack in the sensible job, start sleeping around, buy a Harley Davidson and start writing poetry.  As dramatic an about turn as can be countenanced;  in the context of a club losing money, handing over responsibility for your transfer dealings to a high-profile agent (who also represents the club’s manager) might be seen as imaginative – Rovers won’t be paying much in wages for players whose owners want shot of them and a shop window to do so.  On two counts one has to hope that it fails – firstly out of sympathy for the Rovers support who are asked to support a side full of short-term mercenaries  (what ARE you supporting in that set-up exactly?), and secondly for fear that it might begin to look like an attractive blueprint for others.

4- There’s nowt as queer as folk.  A rather unpleasant episode in the second half saw Michael Kightly’s route to an escaping ball blocked by Herita Ilunga;  Kighty bustled and dodged his way past the defender who then collapsed lamentably in a heap clutching his face.  No contact, nothing even close to contact, just embarrassing, as Iwelumo perhaps ill-advisedly was keen to point out to the stricken left-back as a Donny player played the ball out.  On resumption of play, Lee Hodson appeared to enquire hesitantly of the referee whether he should be returning the ball;  if the official advised him not to it can only be because he too recognised Ilunga’s histrionics for what they were (he hadn’t awarded a free kick for Rovers, but should have penalised the simulation), but in any case the “diplomatic channel” back to Ikeme was blocked by at least a dozen bodies.  So Hodson did not cede possession and was treated to a barrage of boos from the home stands (and a quite psychotically violent challenge from the enormous Goulon that Hodson did well to dodge a minute later) whilst Kightly, the supposed miscreant, attracted no attention at all…

5- Having seen him in action at close hand, the greatest respect to BBC 3CR’s Jon Marks;  calm and professional throughout, I know from listening in on countless occasions that one pictures Jon in a secluded environment cocooned from hubbub and distractions.  An illusion, since cocooned is the last thing we were; doing as little as stringing a coherent sentence together was challenge enough, doing so consistently in a way that in no way betrayed the intimacy of the distractions whilst sharing the drama of the occasion (such as it was), a huge achievement.  Big respec’.


1. Leggatts 'orn - 27/11/2011

Joining 3CR ten minutes into the match yesterday it was a case of …”Whose that bloke summarising with Marks…” “Must be some mistake, actually sounds like someone who knows a bit about football and the ‘orns in particular..”. Made a refreshing change hearing someone summarising who had a real attachment to the club and talked a bit of sense as well. Well done that man. Can we expect a home debut, or is it back to bench warming in the Rookery?.

Point at Donny. Three on Tuesday. That would be decent business methinks.

Matt Rowson - 27/11/2011

Back to the bench for the timebeing… Martin Taylor lined up for Tuesday I think. But I really enjoyed it, thx.

Agree about Tuesday. Massive game now.

2. lukefairweather - 27/11/2011

Congratulations Matt. A fine debut. When does ig get a go?


Matt Rowson - 27/11/2011

i’m not in control of such weighty decisions. He’d have to get to an away game first, I suspect… 🙂

Ian Grant - 28/11/2011

Yes, that’s exactly what I was going to say…I’m unlikely to be asked to do punditry from my living room sofa, although I’m certainly available if I’ve got that wrong…

3. DM - 27/11/2011

So glad I went to the game, if only to avoid the poor co-commentary, which I understand was not a patch on the efforts at Aldershot last season.

I agree with the thunks, mind.. And feel ever more comfortable about a certain bet.

Matt Rowson - 27/11/2011

🙂 All I remember from that Aldershot commentary was that Jon had some kind of gibbering monkey sat next to him grunting. Very odd, although admittedly no worse than some co-commentators.

And that bet only exists in your head.

4. Stephen Hoffman - 29/11/2011

How did Craig Beattie play when he came on, I haven’t seen much of him, so I was just wondering what your opinion is.

Matt Rowson - 29/11/2011

He worked hard, and was aware of what was going on around him. A couple of very perceptive and accurate passes to change the play and open Donny up. On the downside, not a lot of pace and very one-footed – left foot is for standing on, and then only in extremis. Didn’t really work with Iwelumo – both would be better paired with Sordell, neither is an out-and-out goalscorer, both better as foil for someone else.

5. Joonz - 29/11/2011

Some observations from the away end

1. Marv’s exit from the game choked our chances of scoring….. Iwelumo’s shank after MK’s through ball was embarrassing.

2. The Donny fans chanting “Yorkshire, Yorkshire” after the small melee refered to above was hilarious, especially given the make up of their team….good to see Iwelumo showing some fight though.

3. Fortune is a lump. But not nearly as much of a lump as Goulon, who made every other player look tiny in comparison.

4. I still don’t think Yeates works hard enough in defence and he faded quickly after a bright start. Beattie looked half-decent when he came on and deserves a start at the Vic tonight. but if Marvellous is injured then I would prefer Troy to Iwelumo alongside him. Alternativley, SD might remember the academy exists and give Whichelow or Murray a game.Heavens above.

5. We must keep Mariappa locked in a cupboard in January…..the best player on the pitch by an absolute mile.

6. It looks and feels right to see Eustace snapping away in midfield. We don’t look like Watford without him.

Matt Rowson - 29/11/2011

Not sure about Beattie, see my comments above. With the right bloke he could be useful but not with Iwelumo, and not on his own. He could be played effectively alongside Sordell.

Mariappa; marvellous, indeed. Fear he may not be here for much longer, or top flight clubs aren’t doing their scouting properly.

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