Doncaster 2-0 Town
Tuesday, 21st Sep 2004 22:58
A lacklustre Town bowed out of the Carling Cup at the second round stage after suffering a 2-0 defeat at Doncaster Rovers. Ricky Ravenhill netted the first in the seventh minute and Jermaine McSporran added to the home side's lead in the first attack of the second half.
The Blues brought in Matt Richards, Tony Dinning, Lewis Price and Dean Bowditch and switched to a 4-3-3 formation. Left on the bench were Fabian Wilnis, Kelvin Davis, Shefki Kuqi, Tommy Miller and Scott Mitchell. Kevin Horlock wasn't included in the 16.
Doncaster striker Guy Ipoua headed an early chance wide of Price's goal after Drissa Diallo had half-cleared a long ball.
On three, Dean Bowditch found Darren Bent on the right of the Doncaster area. The England U21 shot at keeper Andy Warrington who failed to hold on to the ball but was relieved to see one of his defenders clear.
A goal wasn't long in coming, and on seven it was the home side who would go ahead. Midfielder Ricky Ravenhill was found by an Ipoua header and was allowed to bring the ball into the Town area unchallenged from the left before beating Lewis Price.
Chances were rare at either end but on 20 Dean Bowditch struck a 25-yard shot which Andy Warrington pushed round the post. From the corner Drissa Diallo's header was scrambled clear.
Two minutes later, Pablo Couñago hit a speculative 25-yarder over but the Blues were looking a long way from their best. Couñago needed treatment not long afterwards after being trodden on by a Doncaster player, an act he and other Town players felt was deliberate.
Loanee Tony Dinning, once again failing to impress in the centre of midfield, picked up a yellow card for a foul on Ravenhill just before the half hour, although it seemed clear that he had won the ball.
Jim Magilton curled a 25-yard freekick towards the corner of the net in the 33rd minute but Warrington got across to push it round the post.
Lewis Price had little trouble with a John Doohan 35-yard shot before Richard Naylor got in front of Leo Fortune-West to head over as a dangerous cross came in from the Doncaster left.
Town had failed to get going at all during the first period. The home side looked far more up for it and had given the Blues no time on the ball, while there seemed to be a distinct lack of passion and urgency on the part of the Town players.
Joe Royle switched back to a 4-4-2 formation at the break, Tommy Miller coming on for Dean Bowditch. Bowditch had by no means been the worst player in a blue shirt and virtually anyone could have been replaced.
From the kick-off Rovers went two-up. The ball was played wide to Michael McIndoe on the left from where the Scotland Future player hit a cross-field pass to Jermaine McSporran on the right, the former Wycombe man taking a touch before lashing the ball into the roof of Lewis Price's net.
From there a Town onslaught would have seemed likely but the Blues continued to find it hard to keep the ball and get their passing going.
Just after the hour Tommy Miller shot wide before Darren Bent was threaded through by Jim Magilton. Bent struck his shot from inside the area with power but the advancing Warrington pushed it over the bar.
On 66 Town replaced Pablo Couñago with Shefki Kuqi, the Spaniard having had one of his ineffective games, although the Blues' failure to get on top in midfield wouldn't have helped him to get into the game.
Ipoua shot wide of Price's goal as neither keeper was given the busiest of evenings. As the game moved into the last 10 minutes, shots over the bar from Miller and Kuqi failed to test Andy Warrington.
Shefki Kuqi was probably Town's most effective attacking player in his short spell on the field and he almost created a goal for Darren Bent close to the end. The Finn won the ball on the Town left and took the ball forward before laying the ball back to Bent, Warrington saving to his right.
The Blues failed to put any pressure on the home side in the latter stages, the nearest thing to a goal coming when a Matt Richards error led to Fortune-West going through one-on-one against Lewis Price but hitting his shot straight at the Town keeper.
A thoroughly poor performance from the Blues, by far the worst of the season and one which deserved nothing other than a defeat. Blustery conditions made playing decent football more difficult but that cannot be used as an excuse for such a passionless 90 minutes.
The display gave the impression that no one on the field was that bothered whether we remained in the Carling Cup or not, an attitude which won't have pleased the travelling supporters. Perhaps not coincidentally, a similarly disinterested performance saw Town exit the same competition at the same stage last season against Notts County.
The unfamiliar line-up didn't help matters with Matt Richards looking off the pace after missing out recently due to injury, while Tony Dinning once again showed little likely to win him a permanent deal at Portman Road.
Doncaster clearly went into the game with a better attitude and deservedly progressed to the third round and potentially a revenue raising tie with a Premiership giant.
Town: Price, Diallo, Richards, De Vos, Naylor, Magilton, Dinning, Westlake, Bent, Couñago Kuqi 66), Bowditch (Miller 46).
Photo: Action Images
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