Fan’s View 2021/22 – no.24 – Doncaster away

Article by Paul Beasley Wednesday, December 8th, 2021  

FAN’S VIEW 21/22 – NO.24

Sunderland

This was a very strange one for me, not being there. In a way circumstances conspired against me. Our usual chauffeur was not returning south but pushing on up north for work. That normally wouldn’t have stopped me but having to be up at 7 o’clock next morning to play in a walking football tournament very much helped sway my decision making. That and still being a little bit peed off that we were not at home to Sutton instead of playing at the Stadium of Light.

So Radio Oxford it was. It felt like this experience was even tenser than actually being there. Not seeing what is happening is torture. I couldn’t settle, I just wanted to pace up and down in the lounge. That didn’t last. I put some headphones on to listen to Nathan and Stevie K and started playing around on my PC as a distraction of sorts.

Things Stevie K said rang true. The very good things about Luke McNally but also, as to be expected, a noticeable lack of experience at times. Our midfield not always being there at all and the Black Cats without harassment just coming through to face our back line.

Obviously a pisser going one down so early. Blame? Something is clearly not right if all of a sudden we can be back pedalling in a 4 v 4 situation. An attempted clearance/pass from Sam Long filling in at LB for the suspended Steve Seddon resulted in possession not being taken as Alex Pritchard came away with the ball and Nathan Holland didn’t.

Leon Dajaku had a ridiculous amount of space and Anthony Forde appeared to have no idea how to defend in such a way as to prevent a shot on goal.

I thought it was going to be a very long and painful afternoon but we soon asserted ourselves and by the break had become the better team. A meaningless plaudit of course but we had done something that counted, equalised. Lynden Gooch’s defending was shockingly poor. Instead of hacking clear he looked at the ball as if he had no idea whether he should pick it up, kick it, sit on it or do something else. Holland robbed him with ease and the Sunderland man just belly flopped to the deck. It was put on a plate for Matty Taylor and he finished as he does. Gooch appealed for a foul. None of his team mates joined in. Instead they would have been thinking, what a tosser.

That was in the 36th minute but instead of having set ourselves up nicely to go on and win it we played much worse in the second half and ended up hanging on with the hosts hitting both post and bar.

Nevertheless for me it was a good point.

DONCASTER ROVERS 1 OXFORD UNITED 2

This was more like it; a win and more to the three points, I was there. Making up for missing the previous game we arrived in the South Yorkshire town at about 20 past three having selected the cheapest trains available.

The three pubs visited were tried, tested and approved from previous visits. Not far to go for the first as it is on platform 3b. We weren’t the only football fans in the Draughtsman Ale House. Two from Gillingham on their way to Rotherham asked what time the establishment opened the following morning. On being told it was 10:30 they said they’d be in there as they were staying over. Given that they got tonked 5-1 that would have been a very good move.

Next it was on to the little Plough a short walk away. One of those northern proper boozers where you’re made welcome and there were pints at just £2.80 a time.

Finally it was the Doncaster Brewery Tap to round off before the walk to the Keepmoat via the chip shop. Not one bad pint among the lot.

There’s a reason Donny started the day in the relegation places and finished the evening rock bottom: they’re not very good. That said I don’t think they’re necessarily certs for the drop and did show some spirit if not the class to suggest a surge up the table any time soon.

So it would possibly be fair to conclude that we should have been winning, not on level terms with less than five minutes of the 90 remaining.

There was no question that we were the superior footballing side and looked to have the game under our control from the first whistle.

Cameron Brannagan had put a shot just wide before we opened our account just past the quarter of an hour mark. Gavin Whyte was able to slide off the pitch, get up and retrieve the ball after his attempted cut back into the box had been blocked. Mark Sykes was a grateful recipient of his fellow countryman’s pass and took the ball between two defenders with the aid of a slightly fortuitous bounce to smash home.

That was poor defending and should have been the signal to boost our goal difference but it never happened.

Brannagan once again went close. So close we played the role of twats that thought our team had scored when they hadn’t.

Whyte fired tamely straight at keeper Louis Jones but such was the threat level from Rovers there was little to get concerned about.

Chances came and went in the second half too. After the highly influential Herbie Kane had robbed a Doncaster man he sent Whyte away running from his own half with defenders trying to catch up. They couldn’t but our man didn’t have it in him to finish. He’s still not scored for us this season and that is something that really needs to be addressed. (*)

Taylor put the ball in the net a couple of times but was given off-side. (*)

Then on 74 minutes it happened: we conceded, which was annoying, understandably, and it had not looked like it was coming. But with a slender lead there’s always that possibility whoever the opposition may be.

It looked too easy from our point of view. Branden Horton was allowed to carry the ball into our penalty area and put a low shot past Simon Eastwood. There was no attempt to tackle him at any time nor block his run. And again I’d just throw in the question as to whether our keeper should have done better.

To state the bloody obvious, we needed a second goal now more than ever with about a quarter of an hour to go.

Taylor headed a very easy chance wide from a good Kane cross. It was not Matty’s night and he was nowhere near his goal scoring best.

But we kept going and all of us behind the goal ended up getting way more excited with three minutes left than we should have needed to.

A Seddon one two with Sykes had our full-back driving towards the penalty area. The likely narrative was then a shot from Seddon but having enticed defenders like a magnet, a quick pass was made to James Henry, a half time replacement for Brannagan, and an accurate side footer with power did the job.

We held out with ease during the few minutes remaining. We had a lift home and that journey was much more pleasant than it would have been if JH had not drawn level with Matty in our 21/22 L1 goal scoring charts.
(*) – This has been pointed out to me by someone who is more observant than me and probably had fewer beers before the game:  “One of the offside goals disallowed was from Gavin Whyte ( where he did actually finish pretty well) and the other from Matt Taylor.”

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