Match analysis: Don't panic! May Day for Doncaster Rovers against Luton Town
Doncaster Rovers might have gone four games without a win but there are few signs to suggest the wheels have come off the promotion bandwagon.
Darren Ferguson’s men were by no means at their best against a well-drilled, physical Luton outfit.
But they showed all the tenacity and character required to get them over the finishing line by coming from a goal down - and not panicking in the slightest - to earn a hard-earned point and maintain the status quo at the top of League Two.
A nasty-looking injury to midfield maestro Jordan Houghton provided a genuine sour note.
But on an afternoon when strike pair John Marquis and Andy Williams failed to fire, there was a very timely boost from the bench as Alfie May came on to score his first goal in professional football and Gary McSheffrey made a welcome and impressive return to action following ten months out.
A DIFFERENT DONCASTER
“We showed a different side to us today - something that we certainly didn’t have last season,” said Ferguson after the game. “We’ve got a toughness about us.”
In a nutshell, over the last 12 months, Rovers have gone from being a team with a soft centre to one that does not know when its beaten.
That new-found toughness was tested to the limit by a Luton team that harried, pressed and at times pushed the boundaries of fair play.
In the not-so-distant past Rovers would have succumbed to a side with more physical stature and a clear threat on the counter - but this Doncaster outfit are made of sterner stuff.
story of the match
Both sides are renowned for high-energy, fluid football. But, surprisingly, this encounter lacked quality.
However what it lacked in quality, it more than made up for in sheer endevour and commitment from both sides.
Rovers started the brighter and went closest through Tommy Rowe.
But the Hatters’ constant harrying saw them wrestle back an initiative and take the lead on 54 minutes when a mistake from Niall Mason allowed Isaac Vassell to play in Jordan Cook, who fired home impressively from a difficult angle.
Rovers lacked penetration in the final third but the introduction of May and McSheffrey changed that, the former coolly latching onto Conor Grant’s perfect through ball to slot home a memorable equaliser on 80 minutes.
This was a tale of three strikers.
Marquis, so often a nuisance to opposing centre-halves, was not his usual self.
Opposing number Danny Hylton instead played pantomine villain and should have been sent off, according to Ferguson, for a “disgusting” off-the-ball elbow on Marquis.
In the end, the day belonged to May, a young man who was playing in tier eight of English football earlier this season yet looks at ease at level four. He might not be one for getting involved in build-up play, but he certainly knows where the goal is.
WHAT THEY SAID
Darren Ferguson: “Don’t lose games, that is the key to success. Yet again after a game we’ve lost, we’ve made sure we’ve not lost the next one.
“We showed real guts to come from 1-0 down.
“I thought we were the dominant team in the first half.
“As a team, we showed real guts and determination to not lose the game and keep our unbeaten run going at home.”
Luton boss Nathan Jones: “I thought we deserved to win the game but the referee has made one mistake all day and it was the goal because it’s a foul on Jordan Cook. It’s a foul.
“I couldn’t see them scoring and I thought we were excellent. I thought our game-plan worked, I thought we looked really dangerous, we had the better chances and I’m proud of my team.”