ANALYSIS: Rovers 0 Ipswich 3 - Town knock Christmas stuffing out of Doncaster

Paul Quinn bursts forward for Rovers during the 3-0 defeat to Ipswich.
Paul Quinn bursts forward for Rovers during the 3-0 defeat to Ipswich.

Ipswich boss Mick McCarthy, sporting a perfectly trimmed white beard, bears a somewhat striking resemblance to a certain Father Christmas.

But it was Doncaster’s patched up defence that came bearing late gifts on a thoroughly depressing Boxing Day for Rovers.

Subdued from the outset, this was as flat a performance as Doncaster have produced since Paul Dickov took the reins.

Even the manager, normally keen for a conversation or two with the fourth official, did not seem his usual vociferous self as he watched his injury-hit side slip to a fourth straight defeat.

For the fourth successive game they also shipped three goals, each of them soft in the extreme.

A quiet Keepmoat Stadium seemed to be already nursing a collective Christmas hangover during a dreary opening to the game.

But those headaches only worsened as David McGoldrick and then Luke Chambers both rose unchallenged to head home first half corners in almost identical fashion.

And when McGoldrick skipped past Luke McCullough as if he wasn’t there and made it three shortly after the re-start the atmosphere quickly turned from subdued to sour.

It was the cue for the most audible chants yet of ‘one John Ryan’ and ‘we want Bramall out’, as Doncaster’s fans took their frustration out at the players on the pitch by turning their attention to the major players off it.

Rovers are quite clearly at a crossroads in terms of the direction they want to go in off the field.

But now their season is too - and how Rovers react in the forthcoming January transfer window is looking more and more pivotal in their fight to retain Championship status.

Nine injuries, including the absence of an entire back four, would take its toll on most squads up and down the country.

But, after a fairly promising start to life back in the Championship, Rovers’ threadbare resources have been brutally exposed over the last couple of months.

They are bottom of the Championship’s form table for the last ten games, picking up eight points from a possible 30, shipping 24 goals in the process.

And if they don’t get players back from the treatment room soon - and/or strengthen during the window - the evidence of yesterday would suggest it will be a long, hard winter for Dickov and his men.

Local lad Liam Wakefield, making his first league start, and fellow teen McCullough endured a torrid afternoon at the heart of Doncaster’s defence.

After nervously losing possession on a few occasions during the early exchanges, Wakefield lost his man at a corner and McGoldrick accepted the gift.

For Rovers to switch off from a corner once was bad enough, twice was unforgiveable.

Just six minutes later Chambers was given the freedom of the penalty area to plant a header past the hapless Ross Turnbull.

Doncaster had not registered a shot on target until Mark Duffy’s curling free kick was clawed onto the bar and over by Dean Gerken in the Ipswich goal.

And the game was over six minutes into the second half when McGoldrick latched onto Daryl Murphy’s square ball, ghosted past McCullough and clipped it past Turnbull.

To their credit Doncaster did not throw the towel in. Duffy kept wanting the ball. Richie Wellens kept trying to make things happen.

But what looked like being a difficult afternoon when the team news filtered through had turned into exactly that - and one which also knocked the proverbial Christmas stuffing out of the Rovers.

McCarthy looked on delighted. Doncaster can only hope the real Santa turns up on Sunday - three points at home to struggling Millwall would be a present worth waiting for.

Rovers: Turnbull, Quinn, Wakefield, McCullough, Suk-Young, Duffy, Furman, Wellens, Forrester (Cotterill 70), Macheda (Peterson 53), Robinson (Bennett 73). Subs: Maxted, Woods, De Val Fernandez, Stevens.

Ipswich: Gerken, Chambers, Berra, Smith, Cresswell, Skuse, Hyam, Tunnicliffe, Murphy (Anderson 91), Nouble (Graham 74), McGoldrick (Taylor 83). Subs: Loach, Edwards, Mings, Tabb.

Attendance: 7753