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Match Reports

REPORT | Rovers 1 AFC Wimbledon 2

7 August 2021

Rovers suffered defeat to AFC Wimbledon on the opening day of the season as second half goals from Ayoub Assal and Luke McCormick saw them fight back after Rovers took the lead through Charlie Seaman.

Assal had proven a handful from the first minute but was denied excellently by loan keeper Pontus Dahlberg on a number of occasions in the first half. Rovers played their way into the game however and took the lead with just a minute of the second half played. Seaman marking his EFL debut with a volleyed goal.

Rovers were unable to maintain their lead and ten minutes later, a scramble in the Rovers box fell kindly to Assal whose smartly timed run in behind the Rovers defence left him with only the Swedish keeper to beat. It was a case of fourth time lucky for the 19-year-old who slotted it in from close range. The result was compounded with 15 minutes to go when McCormick capitalised from a free-kick awarded just outside the Rovers box.

Friday’s new additions of Dahlberg and Dan Gardner were two of nine Rovers debutants as Richie Wellens named his starting XI for the opening game of the 2021/22 campaign. Only Tommy Rowe and Tom Anderson had worn the red and white hoops before with the skipper the only survivor from the 2020/21 campaign’s final match.

The match began with an important message from the players asking the whole Rovers family to take a stand against discrimination while captains Anderson and Alex Woodyard showed support for Doncaster Pride Week 2021 by holding the progress flag before kick-off.

It was a cagey opening to the match. The visitors had the best of the possession and carried a threat down their left, but they failed to really take advantage of the good positions they got into. A through ball to release speedy forward Ayoub Assal on the 17th minute was the first moment of note created by either team but the chance was thwarted by Dahlberg who raced confidently off his line to smother the opportunity.

A couple of half-chances went Rovers way: an off-target header by Rowe and an ambitious low drive from Charlie Seaman both failed to trouble Dons keeper Nik Tzanev, while Kyle Knoyle – who was encouraged to shoot by the Rovers faithful after picking the ball up in space outside the visitors box – sent his effort wide of the crossbar.

A searching ball into the Dons box on the half-hour mark led to a rare moment of defensive chaos for the visitors with Tiago Cukur bundled to the ground twice in the space of a minute but referee Samuel Barrott was unmoved by claims of penalty from the Black Bank.

Wimbledon tried to take advantage of the chaos by releasing pacey forward Assal down the wing, but a combination of Matt Smith and Dahlberg kept him out. Assal continued to be the visitor’s best outlet and was released one-on-one for a second time just before the half-hour mark but was denied by the Swedish keeper’s left foot.

Rovers arguably finished the half stronger with both full backs starting to get into more advanced positions but crosses into the box were cleared by a well-drilled and established Dons defence. 

The second half had what the first half had lacked – namely an early chance for Rovers and a shot on target for the home side.

A cross from the left fell to Seaman who carried his 2020/21 scoring form for Maidstone United into his EFL debut. His left-footed volley into the ground completely wrong-footed Tzanev putting Rovers a goal up inside a minute of the restart.

 The home side could only enjoy their lead 12 minutes. Rovers defence all found themselves drawn into a challenge at the top of the box – the ball pinballed around for a moment before pinging towards Rovers’ goal with Assal fastest to react to the loose ball slotting it beyond Dahlberg.

The whole stadium held its breath when Gardner delightfully chipped the ball over the an onrushing defender and sent a volleyed effort goalward in an attempt that would surely have had the goal of the season competition wrapped up, but the ball just wouldn’t dip under the bar. That was the midfielder’s last input into the game as he was replaced by John Bostock.

This substitution was quickly followed by two more with Cukur replaced by Bogle and Cameron John coming on for Aidan Barlow – the latter allowed to Rowe to push into an advanced position with John slotting in at left-back.

Wellens moved seemed a positive one with Rowe winning a quick corner which was delivered to Bogle – the striker won the header but was deemed to have fouled the defender.

The game was turned on its head with 15 minutes remaining however. Smith’s intervention to prevent a through ball was adjudged to have been with his hand which gifted the visitors and opportunity from a free-kick right on the edge of the box. The set piece was well conceived by the Dons, with McCormick sliding a ball under the jumping wall and just inside the far post to take the lead.

At the other end, Rovers saw a number of shots blocked as they went in search of an equaliser. The best of these struck chances was hit with some venom by Bogle but bodies-on-the-line defending from the Dons saw it cleared. There were plenty of opportunities to get the ball into the Wimbledon box, but while the crosses were delivered, they were met by a blue shirt not a red one.

Rovers suffered defeat to AFC Wimbledon on the opening day of the season as second half goals from Ayoub Assal and Luke McCormick saw them fight back after Rovers took the lead through Charlie Seaman.

Assal had proven a handful from the first minute but was denied excellently by loan keeper Pontus Dahlberg on a number of occasions in the first half. Rovers played their way into the game however and took the lead with just a minute of the second half played. Seaman marking his EFL debut with a volleyed goal.

Rovers were unable to maintain their lead and ten minutes later, a scramble in the Rovers box fell kindly to Assal whose smartly timed run in behind the Rovers defence left him with only the Swedish keeper to beat. It was a case of fourth time lucky for the 19-year-old who slotted it in from close range. The result was compounded with 15 minutes to go when McCormick capitalised from a free-kick awarded just outside the Rovers box.

Friday’s new additions of Dahlberg and Dan Gardner were two of nine Rovers debutants as Richie Wellens named his starting XI for the opening game of the 2021/22 campaign. Only Tommy Rowe and Tom Anderson had worn the red and white hoops before with the skipper the only survivor from the 2020/21 campaign’s final match.

The match began with an important message from the players asking the whole Rovers family to take a stand against discrimination while captains Anderson and Alex Woodyard showed support for Doncaster Pride Week 2021 by holding the progress flag before kick-off.

It was a cagey opening to the match. The visitors had the best of the possession and carried a threat down their left, but they failed to really take advantage of the good positions they got into. A through ball to release speedy forward Ayoub Assal on the 17th minute was the first moment of note created by either team but the chance was thwarted by Dahlberg who raced confidently off his line to smother the opportunity.

A couple of half-chances went Rovers way: an off-target header by Rowe and an ambitious low drive from Charlie Seaman both failed to trouble Dons keeper Nik Tzanev, while Kyle Knoyle – who was encouraged to shoot by the Rovers faithful after picking the ball up in space outside the visitors box – sent his effort wide of the crossbar.

A searching ball into the Dons box on the half-hour mark led to a rare moment of defensive chaos for the visitors with Tiago Cukur bundled to the ground twice in the space of a minute but referee Samuel Barrott was unmoved by claims of penalty from the Black Bank.

Wimbledon tried to take advantage of the chaos by releasing pacey forward Assal down the wing, but a combination of Matt Smith and Dahlberg kept him out. Assal continued to be the visitor’s best outlet and was released one-on-one for a second time just before the half-hour mark but was denied by the Swedish keeper’s left foot.

Rovers arguably finished the half stronger with both full backs starting to get into more advanced positions but crosses into the box were cleared by a well-drilled and established Dons defence. Cukur ended up on the floor in the box for a third time just before half-time saying he’d been pulled back by Woodyard when he attempted to meet a cross to the back post by Smith, but this was the weakest claim for a foul of the half and the officials waved it away.

The second half had what the first half had lacked – namely an early chance for Rovers and a shot on target for the home side.

A cross from the left fell to Seaman who carried his 2020/21 scoring form for Maidstone United into his EFL debut. His left-footed volley into the ground completely wrong-footed Tzanev putting Rovers a goal up inside a minute of the restart.

 The home side could only enjoy their lead 12 minutes. Rovers defence all found themselves drawn into a challenge at the top of the box – the ball pinballed around for a moment before pinging towards Rovers’ goal with Assal fastest to react to the loose ball slotting it beyond Dahlberg.

The whole stadium held its breath when Gardner delightfully chipped the ball over the an onrushing defender and sent a volleyed effort goalward in an attempt that would surely have had the goal of the season competition wrapped up, but the ball just wouldn’t dip under the bar. That was the midfielder’s last input into the game as he was replaced by John Bostock.

This substitution was quickly followed by two more with Cukur replaced by Bogle and Cameron John coming on for Aidan Barlow – the latter allowed to Rowe to push into an advanced position with John slotting in at left-back.

Wellens moved seemed a positive one with Rowe winning a quick corner which was delivered to Bogle – the striker won the header but was deemed to have fouled the defender.

The game was turned on its head with 15 minutes remaining however. Smith’s intervention to prevent a through ball was adjudged to have been with his hand which gifted the visitors and opportunity from a free-kick right on the edge of the box. The set piece was well conceived by the Dons, with McCormick sliding a ball under the jumping wall and just inside the far post to take the lead.

At the other end, Rovers saw a number of shots blocked as they went in search of an equaliser. The best of these struck chances was hit with some venom by Bogle but bodies-on-the-line defending from the Dons saw it cleared. There were plenty of opportunities to get the ball into the Wimbledon box, but while the crosses were delivered, they were met by a blue shirt not a red one.

Anderson very nearly rescued a point in the final minute of the game heading over a stranded Tzanev who found himself in completely the wrong place - but the skipper could only guide it over.


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