ANALYSIS & HIGHLIGHTS: Doncaster Rovers 1 Oldham 1 - Small steps under Jones

Oldham's keeper David Cornell can't stop the ball from crossing the line from Andy Butler's header

Oldham's keeper David Cornell can't stop the ball from crossing the line from Andy Butler's header

1
Have your say

There has been no interim manager bounce at Doncaster Rovers just yet.

But at least Saturday’s draw with an Oldham Athletic side in the same boat provided Rob Jones with a few key pointers.

For the majority of the first half and a decent chunk of the second period, you would have been hard pressed to spot any discernible differences between the old and new regime at Rovers.

Doncaster lacked any real tempo or spark and their pattern of play was far from obvious. Only Paul Dickov, a former boss of both of these clubs, was missing from a technical area now occupied by his former skipper.

Jones has had seven days on the training ground with his players to try and get his message across. He’s ‘indestructible’, or so his song goes, but he is not a magician.

His elevation to caretaker manager has certainly not quelled the misfortune that seems to be following Rovers at every turn.

Cameron Stewart fires in a shot on goal

Cameron Stewart fires in a shot on goal

Oldham cancelled out Andy Butler’s first half header with yet another ‘did it or didn’t it cross the line?’ effort, just a fortnight on from the one at Gillingham that ultimately cost Dickov his job. While the home side’s afternoon got off to a nightmare start when star striker Andy Williams went off after seven minutes with a suspected broken nose.

Jones is also dealing with a dressing room clearly bereft of confidence and belief. A dressing room that has forgotten what it feels like to win.

In their last 24 matches in League One, Doncaster have won five of them.

Of the 14 shots Rovers had on goal against the Latics, one was on target.

Doncaster's caretaker manager Rob Jones shouts out the orders

Doncaster's caretaker manager Rob Jones shouts out the orders

That just about says it all.

But some hope and salvation came from the performance of two substitutes - one of whom entered the fray to a volley of abuse from the Black Bank - who both put their hand up and must now be in serious contention to start at Sheffield United on Saturday.

Dany N’Guessan, thrust into the game in place of Williams, offered something different in attack.

His obvious physical strength ruffled Oldham’s feathers and he appears to have a knack of getting into goalscoring positions.

Doncaster's Paul Keegan tracks and closes down Oldham's Danny Philliskirk

Doncaster's Paul Keegan tracks and closes down Oldham's Danny Philliskirk

For a side that has managed just four goals in eight league games this season, his return to fitness could prove to be very timely.

The introduction of Richie Wellens on 66 minutes, for the first time since a move away from the club for personal reasons broke down, was not met with everyone’s blessing.

But the boos that greeted his arrival soon turned into noises of encouragement as the 35-year-old injected some much-needed quality and tempo into Doncaster’s play. It was his entrance that unquestionably sparked Rovers’ most probing and creative spell in the game, only for them to be left rueing missed chances at the final whistle yet again.

Wellens is quite clearly the one midfielder on Rovers’ books that has the ability to dictate a game and, despite the mixed reaction to his return from Rovers fans, it would now take a brave man to leave him out at Bramall Lane.

Rovers have also found someone, in loan winger Cameron Stewart, who can take a set piece. He set up the goal with one free-kick, almost set up another, went close to curling home a sublime dead ball from distance and his corners were on the money throughout.

And despite the frustration of not being able to turn one point into three, there were other positives for Jones too.

Doncaster's Cedric Evina is fouled by Oldham's George Green

Doncaster's Cedric Evina is fouled by Oldham's George Green

His side continue to look fairly secure at the back. They also never looked like losing this game, although in truth Oldham offered little quality or ambition.

The opening 25 minutes were a non-event before the game burst into life when Butler expertly headed in Stewart’s free kick delivery at the back post.

Doncaster’s lead, however, lasted just eight minutes. From Mark Yeates’ corner, Jonathan Burn stretched to angle an effort on goal which was adjudged to have crossed the line despite the best attempts of James Coppinger to keep it out.

Moments later David Cornell in the Oldham goal superbly tipped Stewart’s curling free-kick onto the bar before, in the resulting aftermath, Oscar Gobern saw his looping header hit the underside of the bar and come down on the wrong side of the line.

A poor game resorted to type after the re-start but Wellens’ introduction livened things up. Coppinger drilled an effort from distance just wide, before N’Guessan broke clear but saw his shot tipped over by Cornell.

Rovers were the more likelier to win it but N’Guessan headed Stewart’s free-kick just over from six yards out and Gary MacKenzie then saw a close range effort scrambled off the line in stoppage time.

the teams

Rovers: Stuckmann, Evina, MacKenzie, Butler, Taylor-Sinclair, Coppinger, Keegan, Gobern (Wellens 67), Stewart, Main, Williams (N’Guessan 7). Subs not used: Marosi, Chaplow, Mandeville, P McKay, Middleton.

Oldham: Cornell, Dieng, Wilson, Burn (Wilson 70), Brown, Croft, Jones, Winchester, Yeates (Green 82), Philliskirk, Poleon (Stankevicius 64). Subs not used: Coleman, O’Connell, Eckersley, Bove.

Referee: Andy Woolmer

Attendance: 5,647

Back to the top of the page