Grimsby Town 1 Doncaster Rovers 0: Toothless Rovers crash out of Carabao Cup

It is a story that is becoming all too familiar for Doncaster Rovers.

Tuesday, 13th August 2019, 10:52 am
Updated Tuesday, 13th August 2019, 21:43 pm
Grimsby Town v Doncaster Rovers

Bright, entertaining, attacking play fails to be converted into what matters more than anything else in a game of football.

And, on this frustrating occasion, it cost Rovers their place in the Carabao Cup.

After dominating on possession counter, shot tallies, heat maps and anything else that could be used to measure a team's control of a game, Rovers were taught a lesson in ruthlessness by a side that had been chasing shadows.

Jordan Cook's 40th minute strike was Grimsby Town's first effort on goal, nevermind on target.

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By then, Rovers were in double figures for shots but had lacked accuracy in front of goal and had mainly been restricted to efforts from outside the box.

And the second half proved a real slog as they searched in vain for a way back into the game.

The desperation for attacking additions only grows with each passing game.

Darren Moore made six changes to the side that had started the two league games to date. Seny Dieng and Cameron John were handed their debuts with Niall Ennis making his first start as a lone striker.

Despite the changes, Rovers delivered arguably their most fluid and incisive performance in possession so far this term - certainly in the first half.

Passing was crisp, sharp and quick with excellent runs off the ball helping them push forward rapidly and in good number.

But, in the main, the positives came to an end when Rovers found themselves within 20 yards of the opposition goal.

After working their way into Grimsby territory, they frequently resorted to shots from outside the box, few of which hit the target. Skipper Ben Whiteman in particular was guilty of a lack of accuracy.

Kieran Sadlier was the first to truly test Grimsby keeper James McKeown who pushed a rasping drive around the post.

Rovers continued to push forward with Ennis and Brad Halliday both sending efforts wide.

But profligacy was punished by real efficiency as Grimsby took the lead with a rare attack.

Halliday saw a square pass cut out midway through the Grimsby half, allowing the hosts to surge forward with Cook played in to slot beyond Dieng.

Rovers really should have been level moments later when Halliday slid a ball across the box for Sadlier to tap in, only for McKeown to produce an outstanding save to send it over the bar.

It was Dieng's turn for heroics at the other end on the stroke of half time as he acrobatically tipped over a drilled effort from Cook.

Ben Sheaf replaced Whiteman at the break and Rovers began the second half brightly with Sadlier heading off target and Ennis drilling wide.

Sadlier cut a determined figure and blasted over the bar before drawing a fine save from McKeown from the edge of the box.

But Rovers’ threat increasingly waned with Grimsby opting for a more defensive approach.

Reece James saw a snap shot deflect wide in stoppage time, when Dieng heading up the pitch for a corner proved to be one of few moments of excitement for Rovers.

GRIMSBY: McKeown; Hendrie, Pollock, Davis, Gibson (Hessenthaler 65); Cook, Hewitt, Ring (Green 79); Vernam, Ogbu, Wright (Cardwell 90). Subs not used: Russell, McPherson, Hope, Painter.

ROVERS: Dieng; Halliday, Anderson, John, James; Blair (May 79), Whiteman (Sheaf 46); Crawford, Sadlier, Kiwomya (Taylor 59); Ennis. Subs not used: Lawlor, Blaney, Gomes, Longbottom.

REFEREE: John Brooks (Leicestershire)

ATTENDANCE: 2,470 (478 away)