Doncaster Rovers Remain on Right Track Despite FA Cup Hammering

Doncaster FA Cup

Doncaster Rovers faced the uphill task of a trip to West Ham United in the FA Cup on Saturday, January 23, 2021.

With a visit to Anfield or Old Trafford on the table, there was plenty to play for. However, their task proved impossible, finding themselves behind just two minutes into the game.

One soon became four and before you knew it, Doncaster were headed for the exit door.

Doncaster Rovers Going the Right Way

West Ham Were a Class Apart

To be brutally honest, Doncaster Rovers’ performance was nowhere near up to it – nor what you have come to expect of the League One side. Of course, there is the excuse of Premier League opposition, but lower league sides have gained themselves far greater credit than Doncaster are owed in the FA Cup this weekend. The performance was not something the fans will be shouting about, admittedly from their sofa’s during this difficult period.

Following the third-round win over Blackburn Rovers, there was some optimism that Doncaster could challenge the Hammers – who only just managed to get past Stockport County via a late winner in their third-round tie.

The starting line-ups did not offer much enthusiasm – Ben Whiteman‘s absence after leaving for Preston North End was telling. Doncaster started the game with two full-backs – Brad Halliday and Reece James – filling in at central midfield.

Whilst West Ham were able to rest a few of their key players, their line-up remained particularly strong.

Rovers should have been three down by the twenty-minute mark. Often mistakes, often outclassed, often looking nervy, Doncaster struggled to compete on Saturday afternoon but that does not do their progress under manager Darren Moore justice.

Clear Progress Being Made FA Cup Tie Aside

Doncaster have made clear progress under Darren Moore and whilst their 4-0 loss to West Ham United does not express that – it does not mean it is not true.

Now-Hull City boss Grant McCann, Moore’s predecessor, had guided the club to the League One play-offs before leaving. In that same season, they went on an FA Cup run – a run ended by Crystal Palace – that saw Doncaster go as far as they’ve ever been in the competition. Moore has not managed to match those efforts, but it is worth noting that he had to start again. With the likes of striker John Marquis leaving for Portsmouth and talented left-back Danny Andrew exiting for Fleetwood Town, Moore faced a challenge.

Moore, a manager with Premier League experience, has remained loyal to that challenge and Doncaster Rovers are lucky to have him.

Having finished a harsh ninth in 2019/20 – harsh because they were unable to complete the season. Doncaster now sit in the play-off positions and have games-in-hand on those around them and look like they have the quality to mount a serious challenge for promotion.

Rovers have lost just two of their last 12 League One games, winning eight of them.

Moore has impressively managed to use the loan system to his advantage and whilst that may not be sustainable in the long-term, he is making it work to great effect with a limited budget. The Doncaster side sees youth meet experience and often provides a talented mixture of both.

Tough Task for Darren Moore in the Transfer Market

Ben Whiteman’s inevitable departure finally hit the club in the January transfer window and they face a battle to replace him before the window slams shut. Considering they are having to field full-backs in that central role on occasion, that is something that needs to be done as soon as possible and done well.

Rovers are also tasked with trying to regain the services of Josh Sims. Having signed Sims on loan from Southampton in the summer, the winger had a positive impact at the Keepmoat Stadium – notching up seven assists.

It is reported that Sims’ return is difficult but increasingly becoming a possibility. It would make life easier for Moore should Doncaster secure Sims’ services for another loan – if not they may have to make yet another move in the market.

Doncaster Will Learn From FA Cup Loss

Darren Moore told BBC Sport: “The message was clear to my players coming up against that quality of opposition, if you make mistakes, you get punished.

“There were some good things we did but ultimately we got punished. It’s been a good cup run and we take the rough with the smooth.

“The players can be pleased at what they have done to help the club out financially. Best of luck to West Ham for the rest of the competition.

“This was a big test and we had a mountain to climb after conceding so early. But the thing is to learn from it for the remainder of the season and for the players’ individual careers.”


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