Alas 108 years of hurt continues, and Rovers have still not picked up more than a point in Leicester since 1902. Shame. This was our time. I sensed we were due a win. Still, given Rovers recent run of results, an away draw with a team in the play-off positions is very much a point gained rather than two points lost. This match was an advert for the game of football, in the same sense that the ITV2 schedule is an advert for buying a television. Dull, uneventful and as groundbreaking as a sponge.
The consensus from all those Doncastrians present at the Walkers Stadium was that Rovers have played much better in recent weeks and lost. So whilst a point is appreciated, there is a feeling amongst many that had Doncaster upped their game then this match was there for the taking. After the game Nigel Pearson was critical of what he deemed “very very negative” tactics from Sean O’Driscoll, but its hard to understand what thats based on. Rovers have been playing one man up front for some time, O’Driscoll’s system is based on defending and attacking as a team, which means the team often swamp sides who try and play down the middle. Presumably Pearson’s has misunderstood a ‘footballing reputation’ with a ‘goalscoring reputation’. Trust us when we tell you this Nigel, they are not one and the same.
It was an odd post-match interview which Pearson gave the BBC, as he also suggested that the challenge from Brian Stock which had left Matty Fryatt injured had been intentional. Fryatt left the field on a stretcher after what seemed an unfortunate coming together with the Rovers captain, but Pearson saw it differently; “It’s not a very good challenge is it. I have seen the video. I’ve said enough. You’ll have to see it yourself.” Perhaps someone substituted Pearson’s match tape for a video of Reservoir Dogs, we don’t know, but whilst we have obvious sympathy for Fryatt (who has suffered a suspected broken jaw) its hard to see what Pearson is trying to achieve by labelling blame when no-one else, including those Leicester players much closer, saw any intent.
Anyway, the game itself. Both sides forced chances in the opening ten minutes, but the respective strikes of James Hayter and Andy King met a similar fate, flying wide of the target. It was to be quarter of an hour before anyone was to threaten again, as Paul Gallagher’s deep cross was met on the volley by Matt Oakley, but the City man miss-hit his strike into the turf and it bounced up and over the crossbar. It was in the build up to this chance that Fryatt suffered his injury, coming face to shoulder with Stock as they both chased a loose ball on the top of the area, with the ball falling to Gallagher’s feet for the cross as Fryatt hit the turf. With Fryatt undergoing treatment it would be seven minutes before the match restarted.
In the final five minutes before the break came chances and corners for both sides. Firstly as John Oster got in a shot from distance which was deflected out for a corner. Defender Shelton Martis got his head to the set-piece but could only nod it wide of the near-post. At the other end Leicester forced a succession of corners of their own, but could not convert the pressure on Neil Sullivan’s goal. Only Jack Hobbs came close, the defender heading over a cross from the right flank.
Early in the second half the home side had a great chance to open the scoring as a chipped pass from halfway put Paul Gallagher in the clear, but bearing down on Sullivan, he somehow construed to put his strike high and wide from fifteen yards out. There was a fleeting chance for Stock at the end, but City were enjoying the better of things at this stage and had another chance to break the deadlock just before the hour mark. Danny N’Guessen got in behind the defence, but was denied by the legs of the sprawling Sullivan.
Rovers’ were being limited to efforts from distance and Jamie Coppinger had already seen an effort saved by Chris Weale before he played in Billy Sharp with a well weighted pass from midfield. Sharp, controlled the bouncing ball well to turn inside his man, but his strike from the edge of the area flew just past Weale’s left hand post. With Leicester pushing for a winner, Sean O’Driscoll sent on Sam Hird for Oster to try and see out the draw, which they did so successfully, as despite much pressure City only had a wayward Andy King strike to show for their endeavours. Rovers made one last push for a winner of their own in added time as Sharp got to the byline and crossed, the ball was cushioned for the onrushing Mark Wilson, but off-balance he fired high and wide.
Leicester City line-up (4-4-2); Chris Weale; Michael Morrison, Wayne Brown, Jack Hobbs, Bruno Berner; Matt Oakley, Richie Wellens, Andy King, Danny N’Guessen (Steve Howard); Matty Fryatt (Martyn Waghorn), Paul Gallagher (Lloyd Dyer)
subs not used: Ryan McGivern, Conrad Logan, Nolberto Solano, Alex Bruce
booked: Steve Howard (foul)
Doncaster Rovers line-up (4-3-2-1); Neil Sullivan; James Chambers, Shelton Martis, James O’Connor, Gareth Roberts; John Oster (Sam Hird), Brian Stock, Mark Wilson; Jamie Coppinger, James Hayter; Billy Sharp
subs not used: Ben Smith, Mustapha Dumbaya, Sean McDaid, John Spicer, Jordan Mutch, Lewis Guy
booked: Billy Sharp (dissent)