Development squad defeated in closely fought affair.
Doncaster Rovers 0
Gateshead 1 (D. Briggs, 23)
Wednesday 3rd December 2014
Final Third Development League (East)
Rob Jones was to be denied against his former employers as he took to the dugout against Gateshead. Dean Briggs’ strike midway through the first half settled the contest on what was a bitterly cold night in South Yorkshire.
Jones, who played for the Conference National side between 2001-2003, had not recovered sufficiently to include himself in the squad and instead he allowed Marc De Val and Cedric Evina approximately 60 minutes playing time while the returning Jamie McCombe lasted the distance.
The hosts rarely troubled visiting ‘keeper Jack Wilson in the opening exchanges and it was left to the visitors to set the pace early on. The experienced forward line of Lewis Guy, Michael Rankine and John Shaw proved a handful for Jones’ men on a night that provided a steep learning curve.
Doncaster-born Rankine had the game’s first real sighter on 21 minutes when his stinging drive from 30 yards brought about a much needed one handed save from Rovers ‘keeper Marko Marosi.
Less than two minutes later, the Slovakian was beaten when Briggs drove at the heart of the Rovers defence and calmly picked his spot in the bottom right hand corner from 20 yards.
Captain Harry Middleton lead the riposte and his 27th minute effort grazed the side netting, however Rovers’ endeavours were thwarted by some dogged and determined rearguard action.
On the occasions Rovers did get through, Wilson was in fine form to deny their attempts; Cedric Evina’s powerful run saw him shoot at the near post and, though it took a wicked deflection, the stopper palmed round the post.
Half time – Doncaster Rovers 0-1 Gateshead
After the break, Rovers rallied briefly and Lewis Ferguson’s free kick was cleared only as far as Billy Whitehouse whose sweet volley was blocked well.
Jones saw fit to freshen things up and replaced De Val and Evina with Alex Head and Michael Carberry respectively within moments of each other.
The Rovers wingers combined again on the 70 minute mark and Whitehouse’s cross evaded everyone bar Ferguson who cut in on to his right foot and bent wide of the ‘keeper’s upright.
Try as they might, the forward partnership of Liam Mandeville and Jack McKay – which has proved so lethal at youth level – struggled to get ahead of steam and the pair, who have recently been rewarded with professional contracts, fed off scraps. Somewhat inevitably, Mandeville’s sumptuous delivery across the face of goal in the dying embers lacked a decisive touch.
Danny Wright’s glancing header kissed Marosi’s bar late on and he was denied what would have been an unjust second.
Rovers – Marko Marosi, Mitchell Lund, Cedric Evina (Michael Carberry, 63), Jamie McCombe, Paul McKay (Scott Brown, 42), Billy Whitehouse, Lewis Ferguson, Harry Middleton, Marc De Val (Alex Head, 57), Jack McKay, Liam Mandeville.
Subs not used – Jack McLaren (GK), Aron Gordon.
Cautions - N/A
Gateshead – Jack Wilson, Andrai Jones, Jonathan O’Donnell (Matty Briggs, 56), Dean Briggs (Andy White, 86), Valentin Gjokat (Michael Cummings, 74), Dillon Morse, Michael Rankine, Lewis Guy, John Shaw, Danny Wright, Ryan Wilson.
Subs not used – Brad Mills, Meechak Kanda.
Cautions - N/A
Attendance - 111
Referee – J. Bell.