Southend United 0 Doncaster Rovers 0: Surface doesn’t help spectacle but Ferguson’s men show their resolve

Doncaster Rovers manager Darren Ferguson
Doncaster Rovers manager Darren Ferguson

Sometimes you have to master the conditions as much as you do the opposition.

And Rovers did just that as they battled out a goalless draw at Southend United on a playing surface so poor that even a Sunday league side would turned their noses up at having to turn out on it.

Cutting up severely in the warm-up, the pitch rapidly deteriorated throughout the game which made playing football on the ground almost impossible in certain areas.

But Rovers coped well, being smart and careful while also pushing for the victory.

Both sides had chances to win the game but such an outcome would have been unjust.

Rovers’ best opportunities came in a burst that drew a superb double save from Southend keeper Mark Oxley. First he batted away a powerful header from John Marquis before recovering to parry Alex Kiwomya’s follow-up.

And Marko Marosi - again favoured over Ian Lawlor in goal for Rovers - clattered into his own post acrobatically tipping away a header from Michael Turner.

The manner of the assured and composed performance from Rovers was the ideal response after their painful injury time capitulation at Rotherham United last time out.

They were certainly tested and faced another onslaught from the opposition in added time but did not look like conceding.

It was a timely reminder that Rovers do possess a good degree of resolve - a timely reminder for both supporters and players.

ANOTHER DRAW BUT A GOOD ONE

Rovers earned their 13th draw of season from 36 matches, and seventh in their last 11 games.

It cannot be disputed that Rovers have drawn far too many games this season.

But their latest stalemate was certainly not one in which to be disappointed.

It brought back memories of the draw at Newport County last season. Though the Roots Hall pitch was not as bad as that at Rodney Parade, it was similarly unpredictable.

Which made coming away with something to show from the game, and particularly after a good performance, a real positive.

Throw in the fact that Southend have beaten Portsmouth, Wigan and Scunthorpe in three of their last four home games, and it demonstrates a decent achievement for Rovers.

What they must do now is turn a few of these draws into wins to ensure a positive end to the season.

CHASE FOR QUALITY DOES NOT WANE

Rovers may have gone back to basics in recent weeks - and there was certainly a great deal of that again on Saturday - but they also looked to play football despite the conditions.

In fact, some of their passing football was excellent, even if the conditions dictated it could only be done in bursts.

It served as a reminder that Rovers still possess quality technicians and that the desire to play football does not diminish.

James Coppinger was a prime example of this. This hardly seemed like the ideal game for the veteran but he once again showed his undying quality - the close control, smart movement and swift passing.

This all helped Rovers enjoy good periods of pressure and prevent the game from being played at a frantic pace that would have suited no one.

DEFENSIVE OPTIONS

Rovers may have once again been without most of their centre halves, but the return to the starting XI of Joe Wright and Mathieu Baudry showed the new depth they have in their defensive ranks.

The Wright-Baudry partnership is one which has rarely been used by Darren Ferguson - for understandable reasons - but there were promising signs Rovers could be confident with them as a duo if required.

Andy Boyle should be available for the next game at home to Bradford City with Andy Butler to follow soon after and Tom Anderson still to return.

An area which has proved one of concern for Rovers this season is finally looking more shored up. Hopefully that will be the case come August for the next campaign.