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Doncaster Rovers’ mistake-laden defeat to Fleetwood hopefully just a blip and nothing more serious

John Marquis missed three glorious chances in the defeat to Fleetwood.
John Marquis missed three glorious chances in the defeat to Fleetwood.

Doncaster Rovers were brought down to earth with a considerable bump by Joey Barton’s uncompromising Fleetwood Town side.

The Cod Army produced a no-nonsense display very much in the mould of their manager to inflict a first home league defeat on Rovers.

The 4-0 scoreline flattered the visitors.

And, bizarrely, Rovers could at least take some solace from the way they played in the first half despite trailing by three at the break.

But the kind of individual mistakes that ruined this as a contest and were clinically punished by Fleetwood cannot be repeated if Doncaster harbour genuine promotion ambitions. 

After a largely encouraging start to the season, Rovers’ heaviest home defeat since being trounced 6-0 by Ipswich Town in 2011 was a stark reality check for anyone who might have thought they had cracked it.

Grant McCann is unlikely to dwell on what he labelled as a ‘bad day at the office’.

Rovers fans must hope that’s all it was - and not a sign of anything more serious.

STORY OF THE GAME

It got off on the wrong foot, or Marko Marosi’s flailing right leg to be more precise.

And it got progressively worse.

But it could have been a very different outcome had Rovers shown more care and application in both boxes.

This contest was punctuated by some dubious challenges from the out of form visitors. Barton’s men certainly made their presence felt.

But Marosi’s woeful and reckless challenge on Ched Evans which handed the Sheffield United loanee the opportunity to open the scoring from the spot after just four minutes also left a lot to be desired.

It gave a Fleetwood side without a win in six an unnecessary leg up, a confidence booster and a platform from which to build.

The Slovakian’s blushes could and should have been spared with some better finishing at the other end.

John Marquis spurned the best of the chances and later apologised to fans on Twitter. He does need telling that if he heads in from six yards at 0-1 or keeps his shot down from point blank range at 0-2 it suddenly becomes a very different game.

And it was red faces all round when James Wallace and Ashley Eastham beat their men to head home from corners before Joe Wright’s heavy touch was ruthlessly seized upon by Ashley Hunter and the game was well and truly over after 49 minutes.  

TASTE OF OWN MEDICINE

Rovers haven’t got to where they are in the League One table by kicking lumps out of people but they have had a nastier edge this season and they have the yellow cards to prove it.

So if you give it out you’ve got to be able to take it.

Fleetwood were aggressive, uncompromising and some would say cynical but it worked as their physicality and spoiling tactics stifled Rovers for long periods.

Like Accrington did to good effect on Tuesday, they got in the faces of McCann’s men and made like as difficult as possible.

Town also appeared to think that by keeping midfielder Herbie Kane quiet they could stop Rovers getting into their stride.

Opposition teams seem to be wising up when it comes to stopping Doncaster and that presents a new challenge to McCann and his players.

JUST A BLIP?

After losing just one of their opening ten league games, Rovers have lost twice in the space of five days.

Hopefully it is just a blip.

And hopefully the defeats against Accrington and Fleetwood are not a sign of the arduous nature of this division already catching up with these players.

League One is a grind of a competition and you cannot expect the same 11 or 12 players to continually produce the goods Saturday Tuesday Saturday.

Rovers were not quite themselves at Stanley during the week and the lack of concentration on display against Town might hint at fatigue, whether it be mental or physical.

McCann will unquestionably freshen things up for the visit of Grimsby Town in the Checkatrade Trophy on Tuesday. He might have to think about making a few changes at Rochdale next weekend too.