Opposition Report – Doncaster

Doncaster will be looking to take advantage of some promising performances heading into their game against The Seasiders at the Keepmoat Stadium on Tuesday. The Yorkshire side have won only once in their last five League games, but strong displays against Lincoln and Sunderland respectively have given them a new sense of optimism.

How they play

Doncaster tend to line up in a 4-2-3-1 and look to exploit the wide areas where possible. They feed off of individual quality through the likes of Ben Whiteman and Fejiri Okenabirhie to provide the spark for them. Madger Gomes is another good individual technical asset for them although he is expected to miss out through injury. Really, they lack a true team structure and that’s probably why they’ve been so middle of the ground.

Their season so far

Doncaster have been about as middle of the road as you can get for the majority of this season so far. They sit 11th in the League One table, three places higher than ourselves, with five victories, three draws and three defeats in 11 games.

Their highlight results of the season so far have come in the early stages with an impressive 3-1 away victory at Charlton followed in October by a 4-1 demolition of Ipswich at home. Both of these sides looked a level above us when we played them a few weeks ago so on the face of it, that is a concern.

Since that Ipswich win however they have only won one game in their last five League One outings, yet despite that the expected goals standings tell a different story.

Stats in the above table and below are from @xG_data on Twitter

As you can see above, for the season overall Doncaster’s performances match their actual league position. Yet, even though their better results came in the earlier part of the season, they actually performed worse in that early season run than they have in their last six games from a chance creation perspective.

Their last six games have them 5th in the Expected goals (xG) table, believing that they should have gained two more points than they have in recent games. It was a surprise to me when I saw it but what has basically happened is Doncaster have created more chances in recent games yet not taken them. Yet, in the early stage of the season when they were winning more games, they were creating less chances but being more clinical.

What to take from Donny’s early matches?

The most important thing we can read from Donny’s games is that in the early part of the season whilst, as we know they were putting away goals at a clinical rate that was unsustainable given their performances, they were also conceding chances too. I picked out their 4-1 victory against Bristol Rovers as a real articulation of that.

As you can see above, the game was a closer affair than what it looks like on the face of it. Three of Doncaster’s four goals had an xG rating of less than 0.25. What this means is that their is a 25% chance that effort leads to a goal, so essentially if they had taken each of those efforts four times, it would only have gone in once. And that happened on three occasions.

Strikingly as well Bristol Rovers had two chances in the game not including their goal with a higher likelihood of scoring, particularly the 55th minute chance that Brandon Hanlan missed. So overall, the performance in that game should’ve seen a much closer scoreline.

The Charlton away victory above is another example of the luck they had in the earlier parts of the season with two of their goals coming from a next to nothing likelihood of scoring. These sorts of events are unsustainable in the long run as Donny have eventually found.

What to take from their recent form?

As I said before it’s been a bit of a strange one for Rovers because they’ve now started to perform and create better chances but haven’t found the results to match. Basically, as I’m going to show now, their lack of wins recently is unsustainable given their improved performances so we cannot take them lightly.

Take the above performance against Crewe for example. This was one of Donny’s best performances of the season and given the chances they created they should have comfortably won the game but they ended up losing 2-1.

The defeat to Plymouth is another example of a game where they outplayed the opponent in terms of chance creation, yet came away empty handed.

Danger men

Doncaster are a side that thrive off individual skill and moments to produce something rather than engaging in a real collective effort, with that in mind Madger Gomes is a special talent in the centre of the park for them, luckily for us it looks as though he will miss the game through injury. He has provided three goals this season and looks to use his individual quality to create chances in the final third.

Ben Whiteman is the main man in midfield, organising the play and keeping pace in their possession to quickly shift the ball into the wide areas that they like to exploit. Of course Fejiri Okenabirhie is the main man up top, however if we limit his chances I believe he won’t pose too much of a threat to us in the game generally.

Final thoughts

I’ve said it a lot here but what you can take from Donny is that they have some top individual quality in their ranks, but they do tend to overly rely on it. That means that when they are creating enough chances to win a game but not taking them, they don’t have that Plan B as an organised unit to find other ways to win. It will definitely be a tough test but I think we have a real advantage in our aerial play and overall organisation that will see us through.

How will we set up? Read our preview piece for the Doncaster game.

Image: Doncaster Free Press

Stats provided by: @xG_data on Twitter

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