Yeovil 1 Doncaster Rovers 0: Another breakdown on the road

Chris Brown gets ahead of Yeovil's Shane Duffy
Chris Brown gets ahead of Yeovil's Shane Duffy

It seems fitting that gear box trouble held up the Rovers squad on their long journey down to Yeovil.

The team coach packing in on the motorway left the squad stranded in a service station for three hours on Friday afternoon, delaying their arrival in Somerset .

A failure to effectively move through the gears and sustain a pacy cruising speed at Huish Park ensured the laboured journey was less than worthwhile.

A 15th away trip of the season without a win could hardly have come at a worse time for Paul Dickov’s men.

Victory for hosts Yeovil, plus wins for fellow bottom three alumni Barnsley and Charlton drew in Rovers’ safety margin to just three points.

Worst of all was the fact that it appeared to have a negative affect on the confidence the side had done so well to build up with their strong run just a few weeks prior.

The 59th minute penalty from former favourite James Hayter after a clumsy challenge from James Husband was a hammer-blow Rovers struggled to recover from. Frustration grew as passes failed to come off, crosses were nodded away and half chances charged down.

Illnesses for both Chris Brown and Jordan Bowery - revealed after the game - explained their drop off in energy and performance as the game wore on.

But such a decline was not isolated to the two men who had climbed off their sickbeds to ensure Rovers did not have a severe attacking crisis.

The major issue though was that the tail off in the performance need not have mattered had Rovers made the most of a strong first half or the golden chances created before the hosts took the lead.

Plenty was made by the Yeovil natives of their side’s impressive performances but lack of goals. They have company in that field with Rovers.

Bowery looks to be a striker in desperate need of a goal to relieve him of pressure. Too many times did he hesitate in good positions or get the ball stuck under his feet on the bobbley Huish Park pitch.

Another worrying factor which must be remedied sooner rather than later was the amount of clear cut chances gifted to the opposition.

If Rovers should have been ahead before Yeovil got their winner, then perhaps the hosts should have been out of sight had it not been for their profligacy in front of goal.

Bongani Khumalo and Abdoulaye Meite were both caught flat-footed on occasion with balls over the top and passes in behind as Yeovil looked to break.

But the most concerning aspect was the amount of free headers afforded to Yeovil from crosses into the box.

No slight on the game hosts, but a better standard of opposition would have lapped up such opportunities with glee and inflicted a real hiding on Rovers on Saturday afternoon.

Such flaws seemed minor concerns in a first half when Rovers had the edge.

They controlled the midfield well, regularly robbing possession on half way and sparking wave after wave of attack.

The returning Richie Wellens did make a difference for Rovers. He produced the incisive passes expected of him and moved play on well but he did look sluggish off the ball despite his suspension-sparked two game rest.

The frustration of the afternoon looked to take its toll most on Wellens who more often than not threw his arms up in despair rather than chasing back to regain possession.

If the build-up was not difficult enough for Bowery - who found himself quarantined from his team mates due to illness - he was given a tough time by Yeovil’s big back two, the impressive Shane Duffy in particular.

Both Duffy and former Rovers defender Byron Webster used their physicality to wrestle Bowery and get the better of the on loan Aston Villa man.

Only when Bowery got beyond them did he look a real threat.

It was the 22-year-old who had the game’s first shot on target five minutes in.

Brown did incredibly well to chest into the path of his strike partner who lashed a shot from 12 yards which Marek Stech did well to parry away.

Brown himself was on the end of a couple of decent opportunities midway through the half. A free header could not get through a crowd of bodies while he struggled to get a shot away from a fine Bowery knock-down.

There was another strong performance from Sam Johnstone in the Rovers goal as he continues to belie his relative inexperience at senior level.

The Manchester United youngster produced a stunning reaction stop at full stretch when he tipped wide after Webster executed a diving header from a Tom Lawrence free kick.

Rovers almost got the piece of luck they needed to take the lead on the half hour when Wellens’ long range strike deflected into the path of Bowery but again he could not get the ball from underneath him in the sandy Yeovil box.

The hosts missed two glorious chances just before the break.

Luke Ayling spotted the run of Kieffer Miller and dinked a ball over the top but a diving header from the striker had no power to trouble Johnstone.

And in stoppage time, another Ayling delivery found Shane Duffy unmarked at the back post but he put his header wide.

Another tame header made life easy for Johnstone when Lawrence darted in to meet a Duane Holmes delivery.

But Rovers’ keeper had no chance when Yeovil did take the lead.

Husband clattered into the lively Holmes and referee Darren Drysdale pointed to the spot with Hayter stepping up to lash straight down the middle.

Rovers could have had a penalty of their own moments later when Husband was toppled in similar fashion at the opposite end but it was waved away.

Webster was lucky to escape without punishment when he appeared to lash out at Khumalo, an incident which sparked a huge melee.

Moore missed a chance from point blank range as Yeovil continued to push while substitute Kevin Dawson powered a header onto the bar from acres of space.

Rovers’ attempts to craft chances of their own in the later stages largely resulted in frustration though it took a brave headed block from Duffy to deny a long range strike from busy substitute David Cotterill.

The journey home might have been a smoother one than that on the way down but the mood will have been much gloomier as the harsh reality of the relegation dogfight set back in.