Match analysis: Doncaster Rovers 0 Fleetwood Town 0 - Chronic lack of goals must be summer priority

Harry Forrester fires on goal in Rovers' best chance of a dull afternoon against Fleetwood
Harry Forrester fires on goal in Rovers' best chance of a dull afternoon against Fleetwood

It doesn’t take a genius to work out Paul Dickov’s priority this summer.

Rovers’ boss has already talked about adding more physicality to a side that has been bullied too easily at times. The Bradford game immediately springs to mind.

You also get the feeling it is the ‘been there, got the t-shirt’ type of players that the Scot will chase the hardest. A team that has had a tendency of going into their shells when the going has got tough clearly requires more nous, leadership and fight.

But Saturday’s cure for insomnia at the Keepmoat Stadium only served to highlight the most blindingly obvious thing that Dickov must do during the close season – and that’s radically improve his team’s goal threat.

Sure, he needs to sign up a minimum of one senior goalkeeper and at least one experienced centre half to partner Andy Butler. Whether the latter proves to be a certain Rob Jones – seen by many as heir to Dickov’s throne – will be a fascinating call.

Jones’ return to the side, which has coincided with back-to-back clean sheets, has certainly done his chances of a new contract no harm at all.

Richie Wellens pokes the ball on goal

Richie Wellens pokes the ball on goal

Yes, in midfield he could do with finding a clone for Paul Keegan and a playmaker who will challenge Richie Wellens for his jersey.

But it is Rovers’ chronic lack of goals that clearly needs most attention.

Whether that’s investing in a proven 20-goal season a man, unearthing a poacher from lower down the pyramid, promoting from within the club’s youth ranks, finding Harry Forrester’s best position, or ruthlessly overhauling this team’s front six, something simply has to be done to get Doncaster scoring, especially at the Keepmoat.

Alarmingly, only relegated Yeovil Town (16) have scored fewer league goals on home soil than Rovers (19) this season.

Rob Jones outleaps the Fleetwood defence to head on goal

Rob Jones outleaps the Fleetwood defence to head on goal

And Saturday’s goalless draw was the tenth time, out of 22 games, that Dickov’s men have failed to score at home in the league this term.

They are numbers that clearly don’t tally with a top six finish, the door to which was mathematically slammed shut for both Rovers and the Cod Army after they served up a dour end of season snore-fest.

Such was Doncaster’s lack of threat during a woeful first half that the biggest cheers from the goal-starved home fans came after a meaty block tackle from Dean Furman and a typically persistent bit of pressing from Nathan Tyson.

Tyson it was who snatched at the best chance of the half. After latching onto Wellens’ dinked ball over the top he drove his effort into the ground which allowed Chris Maxwell in the Fleetwood goal to make a comfortable save.

Tyson’s partner Curtis Main, meanwhile, was having an afternoon to forget as the ball continually bounced off him. The former Middlesbrough striker continues to blow hot and cold; a real handful some weeks, totally anonymous the next.

Fleetwood, coming off the back of a morale-sapping defeat to MK Dons in midweek, were neat in possession at times but, like Rovers, timid in the final third. David Ball found himself in space 20 yards out but shot straight at Stephen Bywater, before on the stroke of half time Josh Morris went as close as anyone with a decent hit from the edge of the area that flew narrowly over.

Things could only get better, surely?

And immediately after the interval, during which Main got the hook for Jonson Clarke-Harris, they threatened to. A nice bit of play from Doncaster created an opening for James Coppinger but the out-of-sorts winger’s shot lacked any conviction. Tyson then latched onto another Wellens through ball but his clipped effort bobbled wide of the far post.

Fleetwood, without really threatening, wrestled back some control but a truly awful game was meandering aimlessly when Tyson missed the best chance of the afternoon, heading Kyle Bennett’s right wing cross wide when he should have tested Maxwell.

Substitute Forrester added at least a semblance of flair and Rovers reserved their best spell for the closing moments of an instantly forgettable encounter. Wellens burst into the box but his cross-cum-shot was parried by Maxwell, who later saved smartly to keep out Forrester’s half volley.

This was a nil-niller as dreary and dull as they come, bereft of intensity and tempo.

Indeed a crunching block tackle from young Mitchell Lund, who made an impressive league debut at right back for Rovers, drew arguably the loudest cheer of the day.

The complete lack of quality on show was a rather damning indictment of League One, given that both of these sides harboured genuine top six hopes just a matter of weeks ago.

Lund’s composed display was by far the biggest positive for Doncaster. Dickov sought comfort too from the clean sheet.

But it’s his team’s shyness at the other end of the field that ought to be at the forefront of his mind when it comes to planning for next season.

Nicknamed’ The Pest’, Dickov famously made life hell for defenders but Doncaster’s lack of attacking bite has rarely been more obvious than it was on Saturday.

That simply has to change if the club has aspirations of bettering a season that has fizzled out so disappointingly.