No disguising the fact that it was pretty horrible. No complaints about the result. For five or so minutes early in the game we were on top and had three chances, culminating in the best of the bunch as Bonne headed wide. Once Doncaster scored they were pretty much in charge and we seldom got above scrappy to put them under the sort of pressure that might have turned things around. Two more goals in the second half and we were staring at embarrassment, before Washington headed in what proved to be a small consolation. Badly beaten by a decent enough team but nothing more, their coherence contrasting with our lack of understanding.
The team saw Amos continue in goal, with Barker, Oshilaja, Pratley and Purrington making up the back four, Gilbey, Forster-Caskey, Morgan and Doughty in midfield, leaving Washington and Bonne up front, although as the club site indicated Washington was down the left rather than forming a front two. With Aneke missing from the bench, my thought before the start was that we might struggle if we didn’t score first.
In the event Doncaster had the better of the early exchanges, knocking it around well and probing, but in a five-minute spell we suddenly created chances. First Washington was able to hold off defenders and shot hard across the face of the goal, Doughty coming in at the far post was just unable to get there. Then Gibley cut in from the left and forced a decent save. And to round things off a corner was half-cleared then driven back in, finding Bonne on his own with what looked like the goal at his mercy. It did come to him hard, but he failed to control the effort, sending a header wide.
That proved as good as it got. After a mixed spell Pratley played a loose pass in defence and we were caught napping. There still seemed no great danger as their guy shaped up to shoot from a fair way out. But whether the shot swerved, got deflected, or came through players it deceived Amos, who failed to get near it.
It was a poor goal to give away and we responded badly, nobody seemed to step up. Amos looked a little unsettled, nearly making a hash of a back pass and spilling a ball in, although as half-time approached he redeemed himself with a good save to turn one around the post. It was in that spell pretty much all Doncaster.
No complaints about the scoreline at the break and clearly we needed to play better to get anything out of the game. You hoped there might have been some choice words from Bowyer to gee things up and to get us on the front foot. But the second half was only a few minutes old when we went further behind as a hard, low cross was turned into his own net by Barker, who with a guy behind him reading to tap it in was unable to get the ball over the bar. Unfortunate but an early test of character you felt to see how he would respond.
In the event we didn’t really get to find out as Bowyer took him off to bring on Williams, presumably as a tactical switch. But although Bonne got in behind and from a tight angle had a shot blocked by their keeper’s foot, just after the hour we went further behind. Played across our box to one of their guys on the right side. He cut inside, took it on, and smashed it into the top corner. Poor defending again as he really didn’t have to do that much to get into a goalscoring position.
At that point there seemed no way back for us. But the door was prised open a little not long after as a corner was half-cleared, put back in, knocked back from the far post, and Washington headed it in. A lifeline, but could we capitalise on it? Quite frankly Doncaster were able to see out the game with no further alarms. There were moments and in stoppage time Bonne headed over again and Gilbey hit the bar. But it was all far too little too late.
Most games you take away some positives, but especially after the past week for the club a reminder that we are patching up and making good was not needed. Concede three goals and the game is usually up, while our midfield seldom functioned as a cohesive unit and Bonne missed the chances that came his way. Worse than all that, we didn’t really look up for the challenge. Too many put in what looked like peripheral performances, players struggled out of normal positions, and perhaps not surprisingly they looked as if they had only just met each other. There’s a lot of work to be done.
Amos – 5/10. Have to look at the first goal again but fact is he was well beaten from a long way out; some decent saves but also one or two other iffy moments.
Barker – 6/10. No sense dwelling on the sort of own goal that every defender concedes sooner or later. Unfortunate that Bowyer subbed him not long after, for what I assume were tactical reasons.
Purrington – 5/10. Seemed at least partly culpable for their third goal, bad day for the defence all round.
Oshilaja – 6/10. Can’t remember him doing anything wrong, but don’t remember that many key challenges either.
Pratley – 5/10. Curate’s egg of a game. Put us under pressure with the pass that led to their first goal, almost cost us a late one with a risky overhead kick out with no idea where anyone was. But also made some vital late interventions.
Morgan – 5/10. Just didn’t see enough of him, probably reflected the lack of understanding across the midfield.
Forster-Caskey – 6/10. Came more into things in the second half, but look to him to control a game and not enough of that.
Gilbey – 5/10. My first sight of him and not going to judge him on today in a bad day pretty much all round. Seemed to struggle to get involved, expect to see more of the box-to-box in the future.
Doughty – 5/10. Poor game by his standards. Didn’t seem involved.
Bonne – 5/10. Worked hard enough but when the chances came along he missed them.
Washington – 6/10. Not sure what he’s doing on the left side rather than forming a potent out-and-out front two, but did score and worked hard.
Subs – Williams (6/10 – did make things happen and control of the ball but others around him to shame); Lapslie (no mark, not on long enough).