I nearly didn’t make the kick-off today. A combination of playing Lincoln Sunday Football and the end of the GNER franchise meant that at half past two I was still in Newark. Thanks to a quick train, a fair bit of running and a speedy taxi ride I managed to emerge from the West Stand concourse just as the Rovers players disentangled their pre-match huddle. When you’ve put this sort of commitment into attending a game it’s frustrating to feel that those involved are not showing a similar effort.
Admittedly sections of the Rovers support don’t help the cause; I often feel as though folk are looking for an opportunity to moan rather than seeking signs of encouragement. But then for all the over zealous derision every time a player opt for a different ball to that the crowd can see, today it became hard to disagree with the overall sentiment behind the Keepmoat’s negativity; something has to change.
As they often do; Rovers started brightly. From the off they looked like the team their ten match unbeaten league run promised. Confident on the ball with incisive passing going forward Doncaster created some promising early opportunities; Stephen Roberts turning but pulling his shot wide, a Martin Woods effort straight at Steve Mildenhall.
However, the chances were not converted at the pressure began to mount on the home side; primarily from the Keepmoat crowd. Rovers lost their rhythm and Yeovil capitalised to take the lead seven minutes before the break. With Adam Lockwood drawn out of the back line Darren Way found space and let fly from twenty yards. Stephen Roberts, in attempting to close Way down could only deflect the ball beyond Neil Sullivan and into the top corner.
Boos rang out as the half-time whistle sounded, but then they always do these days. Rovers began the second half well; a run forward from Richie Wellens lifted the crowd before he fed James O’Connor on the right. The full-back’s pull back reached Mark Wilson on the edge of the box but the midfielder could only fire over the bar.
Sean O’Driscoll sent on Jason Price and James Coppinger to liven up the attack, but it had a minimal impact. Instead it was Yeovil who made their attack count as they doubled their lead with twelve minutes remaining. Marcus Stewart headed home a left-wing free-kick to spark a mass exodus from the Keepmoat seats.
Rovers, with ten minutes to find a way back into the game looked anything but urgent and committed. By the time a goal came, Yeovil had gone down to ten men as Stewart received a second yellow-card in the final minute. The strike itself was simply a consolation, a scramble in the six-yard box eventually poked over the line by Yeovil’s Terry Skiverton.
I cannot recall ever being less moved by a Rovers goal than by that one. To say the air in the Keepmoat Stadium today was negative is probably as big an understatement as can be exclaimed. This defeat drops Rovers to tenth, unless they begin to move upwards soon then the O’Driscoll era could be over sooner than John Ryan had wanted.
Man of the Match: Its hard not to feel sorry for James Hayter; increasingly isolated up front and no doubt tired from having spent much of the game wearing a green and white overcoat in the form of Scott Guyet, and yet he still puts the effort in and makes a telling contribution to the team.
Wilson Watch: Not one of Mark Wilson’s better games, but certainly not a bad performance. Moved the ball well before being withdrawn for Jason Price.
Doncaster Rovers line-up (4-3-2-1): Neil Sullivan; James O’Connor, Stephen Roberts (Paul Green), Adam Lockwood, Sean McDaid; Richie Wellens, Mark Wilson (Jason Price), Brian Stock; Lewis Guy (James Coppinger), Martin Woods; James Hayter
subs not used: Mark McCammon, Craig Nelthorpe
booked: Mark Wilson, Brian Stock
Yeovil Town line-up (4-4-2): Steve Mildenhall; Nathan Jones, Scott Guyett, Terrel Forbes, Gary Dempsey (Terry Skiverton); Lee Peltier, Darren Way, Zoltan Stieber (Anthony Barry), James Walker; Paul Warne, Marcus Stewart
subs not used: Lloyd Owusu, Justin Cochrane, Craig Alcock
sent off: Marcus Stewart (second bookable offence)