Match analysis: A case of '˜After the Lord Mayor's Show' for Doncaster Rovers at Colchester
It was a game for which the phrase after the Lord Mayor's show was invented.
Six days on from the wild celebrations which followed the sealing of promotion, Rovers returned to action with a lacklustre performance at play-off chasing Colchester United.
For the first half at least.
To their credit, they did get going after the break, buoyed by an equaliser from Mathieu Baudry in first half stoppage time which their efforts over the preceding 45 minutes had hardly deserved.
And they arguably should have won it in a second period in which they were much more threatening and had a couple of excellent chances.
But they came away from an off day with a single point, matching the result of their rivals for the League Two title Plymouth Argyle. It means they are six points clear with four games to play and could be crowned champions next weekend.
Such facts hardly appeased Darren Ferguson, who declared his mood at half time as the most angry he had been since Rovers’ horrendous visit to Colchester last season.
There is something about this corner of Essex.
While there was no hint of a capitulation as shocking as the one Rovers contrived to produce a year earlier, in the first half there was a complete absence of what has come to be expected from Ferguson’s unstoppable side this season.
They were caught cold by an energetic and driven side who knew they needed to pick up at least a point in the bid for the top seven.
Colchester were everything Rovers were not. Lively both on and off the ball, focused on mounting attacks.
Rovers simply could not retain possession and, in their quest to make something happen, sent plenty of aimless and ill-advised balls forward which the hosts’ back three dealt with comfortably.
And they were punished on 16 minutes as they fell behind to a superb finish from Brennan Dickenson.
Drey Wright squared to Richard Brindley, who flicked on past a static Rovers defence which allowed Dickenson to run in and lash into the top corner past Marko Marosi, who had come in for the injured Ian Lawlor.
It could have been much worse moments later as Chris Porter smashed a shot off the upright from 20 yards.
Rovers’ moments of threat were rare but it took a sensational block from the recovering Tom Eastman to prevent John Marquis equalising.
And they somehow managed to enter the break on level terms when Baudry powered in a header from a Gary McSheffrey cross.
It gave them a platform and they took it, delivering a much better performance in the second half.
Baudry was hooked at half time, his performance labelled ‘rubbish’ by Ferguson. And there was a change of system, switching from 3-4-1-2 to a 4-4-2 diamond with Aaron Taylor-Sinclair handed his first minutes of the season.
Rovers instantly looked much the more threatening. Chances came, good chances which should have been taken.
The best fell for substitute Alfie May, released clear after timing his run onto a long ball superbly. But one touch too many allowed keeper Sam Walker out to close down his shot.
A result elsewhere ensured they were handed a let off in their title quest.
Ferguson will be making sure they leave nothing to chance in the remaining four matches.
There is still one more show for the Lord Mayor to put on yet.