Carlisle continue to extend their unbeaten run, but should it really have been a draw
I must admit, I didn’t see Rovers being the team to end this winning streak. I was, of course, very willing to be proved wrong. It was certainly a pleasant suprise to see Richardo Calder finally starting for us instead of Frazer Richardson, especially considering the incredible impact he makes when he’s substituted on week after week. It was only a matter of time before he made it into the starting eleven. I was very shocked when I found out that Fergie didn’t use the loss against Luton as an oppertunity to mix up the back line and finally include Mattiheu Baudry. The starting line-up certainly looked promising. Was a win on the horizon?
For the duration of the first half, it certainly seemed that way. With the exception of their goal, which was scored with far too much ease for my liking as the cross took a deflection off a striker, Rovers were totally dominant. It was a very similar performance to the first twenty miniutes at Luton, with chances being created almost constantly. Coppinger was once again on form, the guy genuinely should be in the running once again for player of thr month because he is head and shoulders above everyone else in this division. Marquis was also excellent, his work ethic is something that goes unrivaled and alongside Williams (who also put a shift in on Tuesday) he cannot be stopped.
Then, an absolutely brutal, yet effective, challenge from Matty Blair (Paul Keegan, eat your heart out) totally opened up play for Doncater. Tommy Rowe and Andy Williams perfomed a little one-two outside the box before the midfielder, who was widely regarded as the signing of the Summer, hit home in the eighteenth minute – only three minutes after Carlisle took the lead.
Afterwards, Rovers were literally on fire. Calder and Blair were absolutely annihilating the visiting defenders, with nearly every single opportunity on goal coming from the right hand side of the pitch. Eventually, we took the lead when John Marquis turned a defender inside out before taking a shot just outside the penalty area to make it 2-1 just before half time.
At this point it seemed that ending the unbeaten streak was inevitable. Surely to God it was…
After the intermission, we missed our third penalty of the 2016/17 campaign when Tommy Rowe’s strike deflected embarrassingly off the bar. This destroyed any momentum we could have mustered in the second half and won’t do Rowe’s confidence any good at all.
I’m obviously not sure what Carlisle boss Keith Curle said during his team talk at half time, but it must have been something to rival the very best motivational speekers out there. Carlisle came out with a newfound sense of grit, determination and passion that made me realise why they were yet to lose. It was obvious, they wouldn’t give up without a fight. Unfortunately, it seemed that our defence didn’t possess quite so much strength with Andy Butler doing most of the work for his teammates on the back line and Marosi making stunning safe after stunning safe. It became apparrent that soon the Carlisle strike force would soon equalise.
The role substitutions played in the game for both teams was absolutely vital to how it ended. Taking off Richardo Calder totally irradicated any attacking momentum we had and that combined with Carlisle making very attacking changes meant that we were suddenly on the back foot. It was clear the Carlisle coaches knew how strong our midfield could be, and therefore totally bypassed theirs by lobbing a bunch of players up front and hoofing it up the pitch to them. Eventually, it broke and the away side equalised in the seventy-ninth minute.
– Andy Butler: Although both goals scored by Carlisle could have been easily prevented, without Butler they could have easily scored seven or eight more. I have always been a fan of him and his no-nonsense approach to the game. The classic, good old-fashioned centre half is a dying breed and one we must try our hardest to preserve. Butler is that kind of centre back, and that kind of approach to the game ensured we didn’t experience an embarrassing loss.
– Richardo Calder: I am passionate about Richardo Calder. He did very little during his appearances last season, but this year he has come into his own. Even when playing on the right, despite being left-footed, he is a proper force to be reckoned with. I have literally no clue why they subbed him off.
– Carlisle: It takes a lot of mental strength to be unbeaten in this league, and I can only applaud the Cumbrians for being able to do so.
– Anyone who takes a penalty for Doncaster Rovers: Why can’t we score penalites?! It makes no sense really that we are throwing away something that would be a guarranteed goal for any other team. This is the third player to miss a penalty this season now and I have no idea who’s going to take the next one. It is definitely an issue that needs to be addressed by the coaching staff sooner rather than later.
– Harry Middleton: Of all the players who could be brought on to make an impact, or to solidify the defence, Harry Middleton isn’t someone who springs to mind for me. I like the guy a lot, but for me he doesn’t change the game enough to be brought on in games like that.
– Joe Wright and Cedric Evina: Some of the defending during the second half was almost non-existent today, especially from Wright and Evina. Matty Blair isn’t included in this section because he created an immense amount of attacking play and is playing suprisingly well for someone who is totally out of postio, keeps improving and didn’t actually make that many mistakes – unlike the other two who are defenders by trade and really shouldn’t be letting cross after cross go past them.