After Saturday’s 3-2 reverse at Accrington, supporters may wonder when Rovers precipitous descent through English football might end. This unfortunate EFL Cup defeat against Nottingham Forest thankfully offered hints that better times might be ahead.
Rovers began in Darren Ferguson’s preferred 3-5-2, with debutants Joe Wright and Tyler Garratt, plus Marko Marosi and Harry Middleton replacing Mitchell Lund, Riccardo Calder, Ross Etheridge and James Coppinger respectively. Rovers fell behind after 10 minutes when Jamie Ward’s free-kick was cleared to David Vaughan whose first-time volley curled past Marosi. In a first half often played at the pace of a training match John Marquis had the best opening, but shinned over.
After Calder replaced Andy Butler at the interval Rovers seemed much livelier; pressing Forest higher up the field and chasing with energy. Chances started to come: Andy Williams headed tamely wide after Stephen Henderson made a hash of a routine catch and then Marquis forced the keeper to make a fine block. From the resulting corner Niall Mason’s effort was blocked on the line and substitute Liam Mandeville turned in the loose ball.
In the final 20 minutes Doncaster pressed but couldn’t find an opening. As extra time loomed Tommy Rowe appeared to be fouled outside the Forest box. The referee waved away claims of a free-kick and Forest broke, with Jamie Paterson finding Ward whose low drive beat Marosi. The energetic second half has surely set a standard for Rovers, who need to reproduce that regularly against League Two opponents.
by John Coyle