Rovers hit by spot-kick failure again ... Crawley Town 0 Doncaster 0
Doncaster Rovers may be cruising towards League One but they still cannot shake off their Achilles heel - penalties.
For the sixth time this season they failed to convert from 12 yards. And not for the first time, it cost them points.
John Marquis missed from the spot for the second time this term as Rovers were held to a goalless draw by a battling Crawley Town outfit.
And it set the scene for a much more even second period when the game could have swung either way.
The fact it finished goalless and Rovers dropped points against a side they probably would have expected to beat only intensified the spotlight on Marquis’ miss.
While the conversion rate is not nearly as bad as it was earlier in the season, seven successful spot-kicks from 13 awarded is hardly inspiring reading.
Arguably, they could have had another seven points on the board had they been more lethal from the spot.
There was perhaps a sense of justice, though, on Saturday afternoon with the adjudged foul as Tommy Rowe tumbled under pressure from Mark Connolly best described as soft - something with which even Darren Ferguson agreed.
Both goalkeepers took their turns in the spotlight in the stalemate.
Crawley’s Glenn Morris was undoubtedly the man of the match. Though Marquis’ penalty was not the best in execution terms, Morris did well to parry it away and block Alfie May’s follow up.
He also denied James Coppinger who found himself one on one after a Marquis cross but was rapidly closed down.
In one of Rovers’ best opportunities after the break, Morris frustrated Coppinger once again as he tipped wide a low curling effort from the edge of the box.
Ian Lawlor was intent not to allow his opposite number all the keeping plaudits.
The Irishman did well to prevent Crawley making their early second-half pressure count as he palmed Joe McNerney’s powerful header on to the post before blocking Connolly’s low shot.
TRYING TOO HARD
One of the main concerns from Rovers’ recent five-match winless run reared its head again as they chased the three points.
The longer they take to break the deadlock, the more desperate they look. And the more desperate they get, the less effective they are in the final third.
As the second half wore on, they appeared to be trying too hard to make magic happen in the Crawley half.
This brought overhit passes, aimless long balls and dwelling in possession. All this added up to an ever-growing feeling the goal would not be coming.
There were chances. Substitute Andy Williams saw a bullet header cleared off the line by Jimmy Smith.
But the composure and patience, which was back in abundance in the win at Cambridge United in midweek, slowly evaporated, rescued only by Gary McSheffrey’s late substitute appearance.
NOT THE END OF THE WORLD
This was a game that could so easily have ended in defeat for Rovers, such was the fine balance of the second half.
And last season, it probably would have.
Drawing away from home is never entirely a bad thing, particularly on the back of a win on the road earlier in the week.
The fact they remained 12 points clear of fourth spot was an added bonus.
Four points from two away games is a decent haul to take back to the Keepmoat - where they remain unbeaten - for back-to-back home matches against sides they would expect to beat.