SOMETIMES, appearances can be deceptive.
Doncaster Rovers manager Darren Moore, a man-mountain of an individual who was never one to be messed with in his days as a formidable centre-half, has cultivated an entirely different niche in his second career in the dug-out.
Quietly-spoken and someone who clearly prefers to impart carefully-considered words of wisdom and gentle persuasion to his players, Moore is not the sort of figure who has a predilection to administer the hair-dryer treatment.
But when he feels let down and hurt, his players are likely to get the message quickly and it is nothing to do with his imposing stature.
For the first occasion in his time as Rovers chief so far, it happened in Sunday’s limp FA Cup exit at Gillingham.
It ensured that a Leasing.com tie with Leicester City’s Under-21s three days on, staged on a midweek night in December at the Keepmoat Stadium where only the East Stand was open and the attendees were relatively few in number, still carried plenty of appeal and importance for Moore, anxious to witness a fitting reaction.
Sadly, the action would have given him a limited amount in an identikit 3-0 loss, with Leicester displaying ease in possession, neat movement, pace and an ability to press in the right areas, especially in the first half and ultimately easing to victory.
The opener arrived in eye-catching fashion, with a bullocking run on the left from Calvin Ughelumba ending in him threading through an inch-perfect cross which was finished clinically by Admiral Muskwe, a full international for Zimbabwe no less, with his low strike flying past Ian Lawlor.
Rovers, who switched from a 3-4-2-1 formation to their tried and trusted 4-2-3-1 on the restart, were more forceful and fluid on the restart, but coughed up a second goal, with Muskwe again the beneficiary.
In contrast to his first, it was rather more scruffy, with the young forward bundling the ball over the line from Callum Wright’s cross after a header from former Sheffield Wednesday forward George Hirst – son of Owls legend David – hit the crossbar midway through the second half.
Hirst was afforded his own moment late on, stopping to head home after being left unmarked,
The upshot was that Rovers were left to contemplate a second knock-out elimination this week and ensured a victorious return to Doncaster for Foxes Under-21 manager Steve Beaglehole, who developed a reputation for harnessing young talent in his days at his hometown club.
Beaglehole’s finest hour came when he took Rovers to the final of the FA Youth Cup in 1988, when they lost out to a Kevin Campbell-inspired Arsenal, after beating Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City along the way in a memorable run.
From that Rovers’ crop, Mark Rankine, Rufus Brevett and Paul Raven went onto enjoy long and successful league careers.
On last night’s evidence, several of those in blue look capable of forging names for themselves.
They limited Rovers to little aside in the first period aside from a Ben Whiteman shot which was held by Tobias Viktor Johansson and a goalmouth scramble which saw Donervon Daniels and Kwayne Thomas just fail to convert.
More home pressure arrived on the resumption, but Muskwe’s game-sealing second sealed it for the visitors with Hirst applying the gloss.
Doncaster Rovers: Lawlor; Daniels, Anderson, Blaney (Wright 45); Halliday (Bingham 45), Whiteman, Greaves (Gomes 63), Amos; Taylor, May; K Thomas. Substitutes unused: Dieng, James, Sadlier, Watters.
Leicester City under-21s: Johansson (Davies 45); Clark, Amartey, Johnson, Ughelumba; L Thomas, G Thomas, Dewsbury-Hall, Wright (Leshabela 74); Hirst, Muskwe (Rebga 87). Substitutes unused: Daley-Campbell, Eppiah, O’Connor, Tee.
Referee: O Yates (Staffs).