Good news: Rovers managed to get through a match without conceding from a set piece. Bad news: they produced a performance so abject that they managed to make an average League One side look like Champions League material.
Little of note happened in the first 22 minutes until Nicky Devlin was allowed time and space to send over a cross for an unmarked Joe Edwards to head past Ian Lawlor. Two minutes later Justin Shiabu got away from a feeble challenge from Luke McCullough and pulled the ball back for Edwards to slot home his second. Rovers, who failed to muster a shot on target were three down in first-half stoppage time when Kieron Morris skipped past some weak defending to fire home from an angle.
Rovers were sent out early for the second half and James Coppinger soon replaced the ineffective Rodney Kongolo. There was no discernible improvement though and Rovers were four behind after 74 minutes. Erhan Oztumer’s pinpoint through ball found Amadou Bakayoko who beat the advancing Lawlor.
Rovers did manage a late flurry: Tommy Rowe beating Liam Roberts with a low shot then Niall Mason converting a penalty after Andy Boyle had been fouled. However, those late goals flattered Rovers.
This was a dreadful display and the players concerned should be ashamed to be part of it. Darren Ferguson’s decision to abandon the midfield diamond for a 3-5-2 must also be questioned and a huge improvement will be needed from all concerned on Saturday.
by John Coyle