ANALYSIS: Work to do for Doncaster Rovers after opening day draw with Gillingham

Darren Moore watches on as Madger Gomes gets on the ball
Darren Moore watches on as Madger Gomes gets on the ball
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First impressions count for a lot. But on this occasion reading too much into first impressions is more than a little unfair.

Doncaster Rovers kicked off the Darren Moore era with a 1-1 draw against Gillingham that delivered both cause of concern and grounds for optimism.

Before Kieran Sadlier superbly volleyed them level on the stroke of half time, Rovers were up against it and deservedly behind thanks to Alex Jakubiak's simple finish on the half hour mark.

But, buoyed by the goal, they rallied after the break and turned in a much-improved performance.

The biggest conclusion drawn by the end - one on which Moore himself was fully agreeable - was that Rovers remain firmly a work in progress and that it will likely be some time before they play fully in their manager's image.

It was never likely that Rovers would pick up where they left off last season. Play-off contenders do not remain so automatically.

The change of manager was merely one component of a summer of major renovation in the playing arm at the club.

Just two players started Saturday's game that did so in the final match of the previous campaign. Five men made their debuts with a further three new faces on the bench.

The lack of familiarity told in more ways than simply the names on the team sheet.

Yes, Rovers were up against as tenacious outfit as one could expect from a Steve Evans team. Strong, in-your-face pressing throughout the first half offered little chance of comfort or an opportunity to ease into the new campaign.

But Rovers also looked very disjointed and almost nervy for much of the opening period.

Some of the positive signs of pre-season came into play, with the smart, one-touch passing in midfield offering moments of real quality and excitement.

But attacking play broke down all too easily with the ball refusing to stick in the final third.

And there was a nervousness about the defensive ranks, with Gillingham - also playing a 4-2-3-1 system - flooding men forward all too easily.

Rovers' lack of cohesion was exposed when they conceded on 30 minutes. Brandon Hanlan's flick-on put Mikael Ndjoli's through on the right and he squared to Jakubiak to slam home.

The timing of Sadlier's goal was incredibly important as it presented Rovers with a platform for improvement in the second half.

The quality of it brought a first real taste of excitement to an expectant crowd and demonstrated the quality Rovers possess in their ranks.

James Coppinger showed tremendous vision to clip a ball forward which Sadlier met on the volley to rifle past Jack Bonham.

Rovers showed greater confidence and renewed attacking aggression in the second half.

Ben Whiteman dictated play higher up the pitch, picking passes superb to push Rovers forward, particularly in wide areas.

And new centre half pairing Alex Baptiste and Tom Anderson took the easing of pressure as an opportunity to settle and rarely looked troubled.

While the result was probably a fair one overall, Rovers could feel some disappointment they did not grab a later winner, particularly when Whiteman lined up a trademark shot from distance only to fire wide.

But the second half did provide them with a degree of positivity on which to build - and there is still plenty of that to be done.