Darren Moore was a pleased man after seeing his Doncaster Rovers side salvage a point in stoppage time against Sunderland.
The Black Cats led for most of the game through Grant Leadbitter’s fantastic long-range strike, but Rovers managed to level the scores in injury time as Fejiri Okenabirhie bundled in.
It marked a decent return for Moore, who missed their previous two matches – and a further week or training - in self-isolation.
On levelling late
Doncaster had created very few clear chances in the match and a goal didn’t look like coming in the closing stages, but one exciting move involving a burst from Brad Halliday into the box and Okenabirhie’s finish ensured a share of the spoils.
“When you analyse the game, both teams had half chances,” said Moore. “Both teams created one or two, so to get the goal in that way and unpick them with Brad’s bit of brilliant skill, I was pleased for players. They deserved it because they kept at it, kept at it, kept at it, and got their just rewards.”
Asked what it showed about his group, he replied: “Togetherness, resilience, culture, desire. They’re a good group. They continue to work hard for one another and I felt that today, they kept together,
“When you look back at the week’s training we had a couple of days to prepare because of my circumstances. We’ve had to grab them Thursday and Friday, (and) some players were away because of the international break.”
On Fejiri Okenabirhie
The equaliser came from Okenabirhie, and while it wasn’t the most crisp of finishes it was a fair reward for the huge effort that the striker had to put in throughout the game up top.
“He put in a lot of effort for the team today, and obviously you want your number nine scoring goals and he scored another one today,” said Moore.
“So I was pleased for him because sometimes you play that position and you’re working, working, working. He had a couple of half-efforts and he probably felt he could have done better, but for him to get the goal was just reward.”
On the run of the game
After a promising Doncaster start, Sunderland were on top much of the first half and looked to have done enough to secure the three points. Moore analysed where he felt things needed to be changed.
“We sometimes got picked off in areas and we felt ourselves having to do almost double the work in defending,” said the manager. “At half-time we made one or two adjustments and that made us a bit more solid, and put them on the back foot.
“Then we started to influence our game on them in the second half and the pendulum swung back to us. It was a game of chess for both managers and both teams. It was a high-level game.
“You’ve got to give credit to Sunderland, they set their stall out. It was a strong rearguard to try and break down and that goal probably meant more to me than any goal this season, because of the way they kept at it. They kept probing and got the rewards in the end.”
On Joe Lumley
It has been a busy few days at Rovers in the goalkeeping department, following the recall of first-choice keeper Josef Bursik by Stoke City. With no other senior stopper on the books, the club sought an emergency loan deal for Joe Lumley from Queens Park Rangers, and he made an assured debut despite only arriving at the club a couple of days ago.
“Nobody would have foreseen what would happen, it’s quite a bizarre situation,” admitted Moore. “But we’ve had to deal with that and tried to deal with it as best as we possibly could.
“I thought he looked assured today, he looked calm. It was very difficult, he only trained on Friday. He’s come into the game like that and he’s helped get us the point.”
On his time away
Moore missed matches in the FA Cup and EFL Trophy, but perhaps more crucially missed out on the rare opportunity to work with his squad on the training pitch during their 11-day window without a match.
He said: “In the two weeks, I’m gutting I wasn’t here to work on team principles and dynamics. When you have international breaks like that, the amount of work you can get through and the sessions plans you can get through is phenomenal.
“So I’m gutted I didn’t have that because I feel like I’ve missed out on 10-12 days to work on team principles.”