The first local derby of the season saw the Iron travel the short distance down the M180/M18 to the Keepmoat, the home of Doncaster Rovers. Following the first league defeat of the season it was important to get a positive result to ensure the gap between us and those above us didn’t increase.
The one change made to the back line (predicted by many) was Jordan Clarke, returning from a recent injury, in place of Levi Sutton.
The game started at a high tempo and Rovers were soon on the attack, quickly winning two corners. Matching up man for man at the back with three lined up along the line, some very physical jostling for position could be observed around the penalty spot. Screening off allowed the Doncaster central defender to get free of his marker and direct a free header which went just over with the help of a Gilks finger tip. The resultant corner saw the same jostling which resulted in another header and a second near miss so early in the game. Subsequent corners were dealt with more comfortably as the Iron defence communicated and switched their match ups preventing the unchallenged headers.
As the first half developed the defence settled into the game and continued from the previous match attempting to start and support the attacks as much as they could. Whether, due to pressure felt from the previous defeat or the intensity of the game, possession was given away far too regularly (by both teams) as the game became a very scrappy affair. The only real exception being the ball in, from Josh Morris, which resulted in the only goal of the game.
Individually, the back four worked hard on their defensive duties, putting bodies in the way and challenging a very physical opponent. The central defensive partnership of Wallace and McArdle continued to develop during the game and there were some excellent examples of communication and covering each other. However, when in possession, their distribution was not of the standard seen recently. This often resulted in the defence facing more intense pressure than was directly put on them by the opponent.
Both full backs defended well as they both faced difficult direct opponents who were both given plenty of the ball. Well timed tackles and blocks were needed to minimise opportunities as the Iron absorbed the increasing pressure.
Despite all these efforts, Rovers created a number of half chances from distance but fortunately struggled to hit the target as Gilks continued his good form of recent games.
Towards the dying moments of the game, Cameron Burgess was introduced and he played a crucial role as a third centre back seeing the game out, winning a number a clearing headers to hold the challengers at bay.
The most positive aspect of the game was probably the result, though the Iron could not be criticised for work rate and application. Indeed as had been stated following the previous game; ‘We’ll play worse than that and win!’, this was indeed the case following the previous performance at home to Blackburn.