Doncaster Rovers 1, Rotherham United 1: Moore drama as Kieffer settles derby day draw with late strike
Kieffer Moore's 13th goal of the season proved to be unlucky for Doncaster Rovers as Rotherham United snatched a last gasp derby day draw.
With more than a hint of fortune on their side, Rovers appeared to have grafted themselves into a winning position in the first league meeting between these sides for almost 11 years.
But their luck ran out deep into stoppage time when Moore, the leading goalscorer in England, turned home an equaliser with seconds to spare.
On reflection, it was a fair result.
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The shortage of goal attempts on target from both sides told the story of a South Yorkshire derby high on substance but low on quality.
Rotherham, dogged and disciplined in a compact 4-1-4-1 formation, looked to spring quickly when they were given the chance and mustered the game’s better efforts - the best one somehow spurned by Richard Wood who later diverted Rodney Kongolo’s teasing cross into his own net to compound his miserable afternoon.
But a Doncaster side prone to showing their softer centre displayed their own growing durability too.
Having seized the initiative they looked set to go on and record back-to-back league wins for the first time since returning to League One before buckling right at the death.
Rovers had two decent penalty shouts when John Marquis went down in the box under the challenge of Josh Emmanuel and, after the interval, saw a goalbound shot blocked by the outstretched arm of Wood.
However, Darren Ferguson’s men certainly could not argue that luck was not on their side as Wood somehow contrived to miss from two yards out with the game still goalless, Moore twice saw headers go inches wide and Jonson Clarke-Harris later saw an attempt come back off the inside of the post.
You got the feeling it was Doncaster’s lucky day, and just not meant to be for Rotherham.
But in the sixth minute of stoppage time, after substitute David Ball got in behind and saw his effort saved by Ian Lawlor, Moore was on hand to score at the second attempt and earn his side a share of the spoils.
WOOD YOU BELIEVE IT?
Millers skipper Wood had a derby day he probably won’t care to remember after he missed a sitter, put through his own goal and was later substituted when Paul Warne threw on striker Ball.
His first half miss, following up Semi Ajayi’s header off the underside of the bar by also heading off the bar from two yards out when it was easier to score, provided the game’s major talking point.
But even now television replays are inconclusive as to whether the whole ball was over the line when it landed in goalkeeper Lawlor’s lap.
Wood should have scored - and had he given his team something to hold onto against a Rovers side which struggled to impose themselves in the final third the game might have ended very differently.
ROVERS COMING OF AGE?
If your glass is half empty from a Rovers perspective you will lambast another goal conceded in stoppage time, to add to the ones shipped against Rochdale and Shrewsbury. But if your glass is half full you will have seen a side give absolutely everything for the cause, put their bodies on the line and defend with composure and conviction (right until the last minute).
There were signs that this young team is coming of age in League One.
Up to this point they’ve been guilty of naivety, lapses in concentration and costly individual errors. But for the vast majority of this contest Rovers were organised and disciplined. The back three were excellent, while Kongolo and Jordan Houghton impressed in centre midfield.
Warne praised Rovers for the way they dealt with the threat of Moore, for 99 per cent of the game.
His last gasp equaliser only serves to highlight that this Doncaster team are a work in progress. Mistakes will be made and the learning process continues.
But the way Rovers went about their job on Saturday suggests that progress is being made.
MOORE, MOORE, MOORE!
If, as expected, Moore returns to parent club Ipswich in January then Warne has an unenviable task in trying to replace the country’s leading marksman. He was well marshalled by Rovers’s backline for the vast majority of this contest. But his sheer presence gives Rotherham every chance of scoring every time they stick the ball in the box.
Without Moore in their ranks, there’s every danger the Millers’ season could somewhat hit the rocks.