DONCASTER ROVERS: Just no cutting edge

Doncaster Rovers v Owls....Back together and looking forward to the new season ex Owls Rovers Tommy Spurr with his old mate from Hillsborough Mark Beevers
Doncaster Rovers v Owls....Back together and looking forward to the new season ex Owls Rovers Tommy Spurr with his old mate from Hillsborough Mark Beevers
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THERE were positives for both sides, as well as areas for improvement, as Doncaster Rovers and Sheffield Wednesday battled out a goalless draw at the Keepmoat Stadium in Saturday’s pre-season friendly.

Having kept a clean sheet, the two sides were entitled to be fairly happy with their defensive efforts.

Kyle Bennett in action for Rovers against Sheffield Wednesday at the Keepmoat Stadium.

Kyle Bennett in action for Rovers against Sheffield Wednesday at the Keepmoat Stadium.

Certainly Owls boss Dave Jones will have been pleased with his new-look back-four which included summer signings Joe Mattock and Anthony Gardner.

But both sides will know that they will need to be a bit more clinical in and around goal before next month’s kick-off.

Veteran striker Marlon Harewood, currently on trial, would certainly have boosted his hopes of winning himself a deal with last season’s League One runners-up had he converted at least one of the chances to come his way in the first half.

Give credit to young Rovers’ keeper Gary Woods, though, for his part in helping his side keep a clean sheet for the first time this pre-season.

The 21 year-old silenced his critics, who have called for Rovers boss Dean Saunders to bring in a more experienced keeper, by producing a string of excellent saves in a confident display.

His counterpart, Chris Kirkland, also had reason to feel pleased with his efforts on his Wednesday debut.

The one-time England international, who played a game on loan for Rovers last season before suffering yet another injury and returning to Wigan, showed the sort of reaction which earned him international honours earlier in his career when tipping a goal-bound shot by midfielder David Syers over the bar for a corner in the first half.

Wednesday’s Jose Semedo also looked to get forward and he had a couple of attempts on goal.

Wednesday left-back Reda Johnson was always a threat in the air from set-pieces, but he will probably feel that he should have at least have hit the target with a couple of powerful headers which sailed a few inches over the bar.

Whilst not posing the same aerial threat in front of goal, former Owls defender Tommy Spurr was outstanding in another patched-up Doncaster defence - two of whom were members of last season’s youth team.

Everyone at the club knew about teenage left-back James Husband’s potential after he played the last three league games of last season and won the man-of-the-match award in two of them.

But some will have been surprised at how well centre-back Liam Wakefield has acquitted himself after being thrown in at the deep end due to a lack of available defenders on the books.

Trialist, Paul Quinn, who was making his debut in Rovers colours against a side managed by Jones, his former boss at Cardiff City, did enough to warrant another outing.

Jones was reportedly interested in Rovers prospect Kyle Bennett during his time in charge of the Bluebirds last season, and he will have been impressed by the speedy forward in the first half.

James Coppinger also showed some nice touches for Rovers in the first half after missing the Rotherham game in midweek, while Paul Keegan built on his impressive showing against the Millers.

Chris Brown, who could have been awarded a second half penalty, worked hard as did Robbie Blake.

The tempo of the game slowed in the second half but Jones, in particular, will have been pleased with how his side lasted the pace given their exploits in Portugal and the travelling involved.

He will also have been delighted by the magnificent backing provided by the 3,800 or so Owls fans, who made it sound like a home game at times.

Chaiman Milan Mandaric certainly was:”They are as good as gold,” he told The Star.

For their part, the fans will have been impressed by Wednesday’s commitment to get the ball down and play from the back.

A style of play which could win them many friends on their return to the Championship - just as it did Rovers.