Doncaster Rovers 2-2 Newcastle United: Second half fight-back from the Magpies prevents shock defeat

Newcastle found themselves 2-0 down at half-time thanks to a Andy Williams' double.

Doncaster Rovers 2-2 Newcastle United: Second half fight-back from the Magpies prevents shock defeat
Lascalles captained the Magpies for the second game in a row (Photo: Newcastle United)
Doncaster Rovers
2 2
Newcastle United
SCORE: 1-0, 21, WILLIAMS 2-0, 45, WILLIAMS 2-1, 51, HAYDEN 2-2, 90, PEREZ
REFEREE: No bookings.
INCIDENTS: Pre-season friendly - Attendance: 5,698

Newcastle United came from two down to draw with League Two side Doncaster Rovers at the Keepmoat Stadium.

The Magpies struggled to get going in the first half as they lacked any killer pass paving way for Rovers to take advantage for a shock lead. Matz Sels was at fault for the opening goal as he conceded a penalty which Williams converted.

Williams grabbed his second when he was on hand to head in, freely, at the back post on the edge of half-time.

Rafael Benitez called upon seven second half changes in an attempt to improve his sides finish and also finding his side a route back into the game. Second half goalkeeper, Marko Marosi done his best to keep Doncaster in the lead after a series of saves.

But a hint in fortune from Isaac Hayden for United’s first and a late strike from Ayoze Perez seen the Geordies avoid defeat.

Pre-match confusion

The futures of Georginio Wijnaldum and Florian Thauvin has been the subject of high speculation throughout the summer transfer window.  Both players played and scored in Saturday’s 6-0 win over Bohemian.

The duo travelled with the squad to the Keepmoat Stadium. For Wijnaldum, talk of a move to Liverpool intensified Monday and when Benitez’s announced his squad, the Dutchman failed to make the bench, fuelling rumours that the imminent move was in fact, true.

The situation of Thauvin has always been clear, Marseille want to bring the Frenchman back to Stade Velodrome. However, after his goal against Bohemian, it came to the attention of fans that Thauvin may have a future on Tyneside. But, like Wijnaldum, Thauvin was also not named on the bench.

As fans started to digest the news, journalists inside the Keepmoat broke the news that despite Wijnaldum and Thauvin’s removal, they joined their team mates in their pre-match warm up.

Then, 15 minutes before kick-off was due, Newcastle’s Twitter page confirmed that Wijnaldum and Thauvin were added to the Magpies bench.

And the story was complete when both players joined the action in the second half.

Matz Sels error – Doncaster take the lead 

The Belgian goalkeeper had a quiet debut against Bohemian. On 19 minutes, Sels was called into his first piece of action – making an absolute clanger of it. Sels badly miss-controlled the ball then tried to make amends of the situation by attempting to the ball punch clear. Instead, he clattered into Marquis for a penalty which Williams converted.

The 24-year-old was very slow in his distribution - often putting himself under pressure throughout the 90 minutes. 

Williams double – lack of threat from the Geordies

The Magpies re-grouped from going 1-0 down. Benitez’z men were enjoying the large parts of possession, however, Doncaster were still able to unleash a fair few attacks.

Newcastle could create nothing more than half chances. Although Aleksander Mitrovic had his header well saved by Ross Etherigde. And the goalkeeper saved proved crucial with Rovers’ doubling their lead moments later.

Doncaster earned a corner on the edge of half-time - catching the United defence off-guard as Williams headed in at the back post for his second of the night.  

Hayden, a man with a plan

The summer signing showcased his heart and determination in the central-midfield. Five minutes after coming on, Hayden launched a long distance shot that needed saving from Marosi at the expense of a corner. Hayden rallied himself into the box for the resulting corner where his flick was fortunate to take a huge deflection to end up in the back of the next on 51 minutes. 

Hayden watches his deflected effort go in (Photo:
Hayden watches his deflected effort go in (Photo:

The ex-Arsenal man kept up his attacking threat when he once again tested Marosi from range as the keeper was made to deal with his shot for a second time. His energy in midfield gave his side a new lease of life with a full blooded challenge in an attempt to complete the fight back.

Attacking second half performance – Marosi beaten at the very end

Marosi replaced Etheridge in between the Rovers sticks, a decision that manager Darren Ferguson can be very pleased with. Newcastle bombarded the Doncaster defence in the second period. But frustratingly for the Magpies, every time they broke through, Marosi was on hand to clear up the danger.

Armstrong, Dwight Gayle and Thauvin all fell victim to a defiant Marosi. However, a Benitez side never gives up as they finally beat Marosi through a clever strike from Ayoze Perez, curling his shot past the Slovakian goalkeeper.

Wijnaldum may clinched a winner when Marosi parried the ball to the Dutchman as he found himself with a free shot in front of goal. Thankfully for the goalkeeper, Wijnadlum mis-hit his shot wide.

Amstrong’s chance to impress

The 19-year-old was given his chance to impress Benitez as he made the starting 11. Adam Armstrong occupied a role next to Mitrovic to create a big man little man combination.

The Geordie-born striker looked keen to take his chance by doing a lot of running. Armstrong had a few opportunities in the first half but his best chance came on 39 minutes when he was the end of defence-cutting pass – his shot was straight at Etheridge.

Armstrong had one more opportunity to equalise before giving way to Thauvin, and if he would have if it wasn’t for a great block from Marosi.