Sat 27
Doncaster Rovers
The Tigers


By Melvyn Utley
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A promising start from Grant McCann’s side was rewarded with a seventh-minute opener from Jackson Irvine, but Madger Gomes’ fine strike ensured the scores were level at the break.

James Coppinger deservedly put the hosts ahead ten minutes into the second half and it looked as though that would enough to claim the win for the League One side until Josh Bowler struck an 87th-minute equaliser for the Tigers following an impressive cameo off the bench.

McCann opted to make numerous changes from the side that slipped to a first defeat of pre-season to Amiens SC in midweek, with only Jon Toral and Nouha Dicko retaining their places in the starting line-up.

The Spaniard was included a three-man midfield alongside Jackson Irvine and Kevin Stewart, whilst no risks were taken with Robbie McKenzie, David Milinkovic and Tom Eaves. New signing Sean McLoughlin was in attendance at the Keepmoat, but not included as part of McCann’s match day squad.

The hosts were the first to threaten when the ball looked to be dropping invitingly for Kieran Saddler juts outside the box, with the Rovers man lining up an effort on the half-volley until Kevin Stewart produced a vital interception to bring an end to the danger.

It was then the Tigers’ turn to look dangerous in the final third as Irvine, Toral and Jarrod Bowen linked up well just outside the box, only for Joe Wright to deny the latter as he attempted to get a shot away.

It didn’t take long for the first goal to arrive though as Irvine opened the scoring with just seven minutes played, applying the finishing touch to a flowing team move. Toral worked the ball into Dicko, who produced a sublime flick through the Doncaster defence for Jarrod Bowen to cut the ball across the face of goal, allowing the Australian midfielder to slide home his third strike of pre-season.

Dicko almost added a second goal moments after the restart with a cheeky effort from distance after spotting Rovers keeper Seny Dieng off his line, but was just unable to guide his strike on target.

The striker was then harshly adjudged to have gone to ground too easily by Jon Moss after being felled inside the box, prompting the official to give McCann a stern talking to in his technical area following his complaints at the decision to the fourth official.

The Tigers continued to apply plenty of pressure as they looked to extend their lead with Dicko seeing an effort from Kamil Grosicki’s pull-back well blocked before the winger fired over himself after connecting with Bowen’s low centre.

But, against the run of play, Doncaster got themselves back on level terms on 23 minutes through Madger Gomes’ fine finish. Alfie May embarked on a run from left to right and laid the ball off to Gomes, who found the back of the net with a curling effort that crept in at the far post.

It brought a positive response from the Tigers, with Grosicki firing narrowly wide of the far post before Eric Lichaj dragged an effort from distance off target.

The goalscoring opportunities dried up over the next ten minutes of play, but it was the hosts who looked the more threatening without really testing George Long.

McCann’s side were left frustrated once again after another penalty decision went against them six minutes before the break. Grosicki appeared to be pushed the floor inside the box as he attempted to shield the ball but referee Moss again waved away the appeals.

The last meaningful faction of the first half saw Toral rise well to meet Grosicki’s left-wing cross, only for the Spaniard to send his header heartlessly over the bar.

McCann made one change at the break with Dan Batty introduced into the action in place of Toral in the middle of the park.

Irvine required treatment after being on the reviving end of a strong challenge from Ben Sheaf, which resulted in a yellow card for the Doncaster loanee.

The Tigers twice went close to re-taking the lead from back-to-back corners with Jordy de Wijs’ effort on the turn deflected behind before substitute Batty’s header forced Deing into a smart save.

Despite enjoying a positive opening period to the second half, the Tigers found themselves behind on 55 minutes. Sadlier’s square ball was deliberately left by Alfie May and found James Coppinger in acres of space and the veteran found the bottom corner with a low strike from 25 yards.

Grosicki responded with a speculative effort from distance that was comfortably gathered by Deing in the Rovers’ goal.

McCann made his second change of the afternoon with Josh Bowler coming on to replace Dicko, a switch that saw Bowen move into a central attacking role.

Gomes became the second Doncaster player to be shown a yellow card on 66 minutes for a cynical foul on Batty, before the hosts came close to extending their lead – with only a superb challenge from Stephen Kingsley preventing them from doing so as Rovers’ trialist striker looked to finish from close-range.

The Tigers were still in the game though and pressed for an equaliser, with Bowler sending a ferocious effort just past the wrong side the of the post before Bowen was off target on three separate occasions.

Although Rovers wasted two glorious opportunities to put the game to bed, the leveller finally arrived three minutes from time with Bowler grabbing his first goal in a Hull City shirt, with the substitute firing in from close-range after Batty’s shot had deflected kindly into his path.

Doncaster Rovers: Dieng, Halliday, James, Anderson, Wright (Trialist 26), Sheaf (Blair 70), Saddler, Whiteman, Gomes (Longbottom 88), May (Trialist 57), Coppinger (Trialist 57)
Subs Not Used: Lawlor.

Hull City: Long, Lichaj, Kingsley, de Wijs, Burke, Stewart, Irvine, Toral (Batty 46), Grosicki, Bowen, Dicko (Bowler 63).
Subs Not Used: Ingram, Tafazolli, Henriksen, Greaves, Lewis-Potter.

Att: 2,477 (inc 691 Hull City fans)

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Match details

Match date

Sat 27, Jul 2019