The tide was in when we got to Southend seafront; no matter, someone had helpfully repositioned the beach between Roots Hall’s four gloriously antiquated stands.
Recent weather had clearly taken its toll on the Southend pitch, with the resultant surface dictating a scrappy unceremonious affair that was high on endeavour and resilience, but ultimately low on quality in front of goal.
Both sides had their best chances in the opening forty-five minutes; first the hosts as Stephen McLaughlin, played in by Marc-Antoine Fortune, beat the outward-rushing Marko Marosi, but also cleared the ‘keeper’s far post. For Rovers, a passing move from back to front ended with Matty Blair crossing for John Marquis, but the forward’s header was well saved by Mark Oxley who was up swiftly to smother the follow-up from Alex Kiwomya.
For much of the second half Rovers were on the front foot. Luke McCullough belied the bog of midfield to pick out passes with such accuracy I feared raising my arm above my head for finding a ball at my feet, while James Coppinger gonna James Coppinger. But for all the possession in the final third, Doncaster didn’t muster a single shot on target.
Southend did; and Rovers can be grateful for Marosi’s flying save from Michael Turner’s header for the point they ultimately secured. But if draws are to be turned into wins, then Darren Ferguson needs to find a way to get more out of his forwards than just a lot of earnest running around.
by Glen Wilson