“I thought we were a disgrace… for a team that’s fighting for its life I thought we came here and played like there was nothing on the game, like we came here to entertain the supporters. We’ve scored, what? Four goals in ten games? If we think we can come to any ground in the Championship and out score teams we’re deluding ourselves” The words of Sean O’Driscoll speaking after today’s game, and ones which effectively sum up Rovers current problems. Yes this team can play football, but if it can’t do the simple tasks like limiting the opponents’ chances then we’re set for a nervy season finale.
The match got off to a lively start, and Rovers had already seen a Jamie Coppinger cross flash across goal before Matty Fryatt got in a strike on Gary Woods’ goal which the ‘keeper comfortably fielded. Nine minutes in though Hull did take the lead as they cut in from the left and Shelton Martis miscued allowing the ball to run on for Fryatt. His shot was blocked by Matt Kilgallon, but the ball fell into he path of Richard Garcia and he slotted home the opening goal.
Within six minutes though Rovers had drawn level; Kilgallon fed Simon Gillett and the midfielder hit a fierce thirty yard strike against the post, but Franck Moussa was alive to the rebound, turning it in at the near post from just inside the area. Rovers joy was short-lived though as Hull retook the lead five minutes later; Garcia nodded a deep ball back across goal and Martis was adjudged to have pushed James Chester to the ground to give City a penalty. Fryatt took it and though Woods went the right way he couldn’t keep it out.
Though Rovers enjoyed some decent spells on the ball in the rest of the half chances wouldn’t come their way, instead it was the home side who looked more likely to add to the score; Garcia heading over and Fryatt firing just wide. The only good news for Rovers was that Brian Stock was still on the field having made a second rash challenge just minutes after being booked for a block on Jamie Devitt. Things would go from bad to worse early in the second half though as The Tigers did extend their lead. Liam Rosenior’s chipped ball to the far-post met by the unmarked diving head of Matty Fryatt.
At 3-1 down Rovers began to play and create chances, but just couldn’t find the telling touch in front of goal. Both Gillett and Jamie Coppinger forced saves from Vito Mannone, with arguably the best chance coming the way of James Hayter. Coppinger got away down the right before hitting a low cross to the near-post which Hayter stabbed goalwards, but Mannone saved with his legs. Rovers fans have been clamouring for their players to show a bit more passion of recent weeks, though they got more than they would have expected from John Oster when he was taken off to make way for Jason Euell. Oster reacted by hoofing the ball high into the KC Stadium seats and then taking the rest of his aggression out on the Rovers’ water-bottles.
Hull should’ve added a fourth twenty minutes from time as Fryatt squared for substitute Aaron McLean who had an open goal in front of him, but somehow he managed to get the ball tangled up in his own feet and it rolled apologetically back to Woods. Rovers continued to create half-chances of their own; Coppinger hitting a shot over the bar from a Jason Euell cross and Ryan Mason forced Mannone into a save. Late on Euell headed over from a Stock cross and Moussa had a shot saved, but it was too little too late from Doncaster, and each time their attacks faltered Hull hit them on the break to threaten another goal. A disappointing defeat at any time, let alone when points are at a premium.
In the evening after this match I had a quick look on one of the Rovers’ fans’ messageboards. I really wish I hadn’t. A sea of doom-laden knee-jerk reactions awaited including my own personal favourite; a person suggesting we get rid of O’Driscoll and replace him “with someone with a bit of tactical know-how”. And if that wasn’t bad enough, another thread was championing Kevin Keegan. Is this what we’ve become? Yes times are tough at present, but the hysteria amongst the supporters in the wake of the result is without perspective. Prior to this match Rovers effectively needed one win from five games to secure their place. Hull was the least likely of places to pick up that win, so the task at hand has not changed, except for the added focus on Friday’s fixture.
Hull City line-up (4-4-2); Vito Mannone; Anthony Gerrard, Andy Dawson Jack Hobbs, Liam Rosenior; James Chester, Jay Simpson (Aaron McLean), Robert Koren, Corry Evans; Richard Garcia (Jamie Devitt), Matty Fryatt
subs not used: Matt Duke, James Harper, Tom Cairney, David Amoo, Tijani Belaid
Doncaster Rovers line-up (4-3-2-1); Gary Woods; James O’Connor, Shelton Martis (Wayne Thomas), Matt Kilgallon, George Friend; Brian Stock, Simon Gillett, John Oster (Jason Euell); Jamie Coppinger, Franck Moussa; James Hayter (Ryan Mason)
subs not used: Neil Sullivan, Sam Hird, Mark Wilson, Dean Shiels
booked: Shelton Martis, Brianm Stock, James Hayter