Crystal Palace showed the true gap in quality as they swept aside a Doncaster Rovers side void of such as the Eagles ran out 2-0 winners in the no-contest. Goals from Jeffery Schlupp and Max Meyer sank the League One side as they struggled for end product in a one-sided game.

Quick, attacking football

True to his word, Grant McCann set out his Doncaster side in much the same shape they ended on Tuesday night in their 3-0 win at home to Southend. A mixture of quick attacking football unsettled the Palace rearguard as a quintet of James Coppinger, Ali Crawford, Herbie Kane, John Marquis and Alfie May carried out Doncaster’s tactics to perfection. However, the Donnies attack was bereft of any sort of creativity, as the Yorkshire side struggled to make Wayne Hennessy work, which ultimately saw Palace win 2-0, but not without struggle.

Doncaster made a blistering start to the FA Cup tie, with 13 passes entering the final third in the opening 20 minutes Sunday’s fixture. There was an intent from Doncaster to not allow Crystal Palace to relax in what was a frantic opening to the game.

Doncaster Rovers Crystal Palace FA Cup Tactical Analysis
Doncaster signalled their intentions just 49 seconds into their cup tie against Crystal Palace, with SIX men pressing high up the pitch.
Doncaster Rovers Crystal Palace FA Cup Tactical Analysis
Doncaster break forward with the quintet of Coppinger, Crawford, Kane, May and Marquis

The above images highlight the blistering start made by Doncaster in yesterday’s cup tie, as they swarmed Crystal Palace in an attempt to overwhelm their opposition.

High pressing played a key part in Doncaster’s game plan as they forced Crystal Palace into many errors, which won the League One side many corners and ball possessions. In the first half alone, Crystal Palace lost possession a mammoth 11 times, with four times being as a result of dispossession, and a further SEVEN times being as a result of a turnover in possession. A turnover in possession shows just the amount of pressure Doncaster put on Crystal Palace, seeing the Eagles lose the ball, which ended up in Doncaster’s hands. Of the seven times possession saw a turnover from Crystal Palace to Doncaster, three of those times saw Doncaster win corners as a result of the high pressure that was implemented by McCann and his side.

Doncaster Rovers Crystal Palace FA Cup Tactical Analysis
Graph showing loss of possession statistics. (Source: Whoscored)

How the game was won

The difference in attacking quality was rather stark and clear for all to see in Sunday’s cup tie, as Doncaster failed to make their dominance count and were caught with a sucker punch and a top-class finish from Jeffery Schlupp. The shot proved to be Crystal Palace’s first of the game, and also saw the Eagles take the lead.

Doncaster Rovers Crystal Palace FA Cup Tactical Analysis
The beginning of a devastating counter-attack from Crystal Palace, as six Doncaster players are caught too high up the pitch.

Doncaster’s progressive style of play showed a lot of courage on their part, however, it meant that the League One side remained far too open at the back. This proved the case in just the eighth minute of the game, when Schlupp struck home after a devastating counter-attack. It took one interception from Luka Miliviojevic and two passes to send Schlupp on his way, and charging towards the Doncaster penalty area. As shown in the image above, six Doncaster players are caught out by one pass forward from Miliviojevic. to Schlupp, who then went on to score the opening goal of the game.

Further along in the move, two Doncaster defenders are also guilty of not doing enough to stop Schlupp from scoring from a tight angle. The angle remains tight, and with two defenders directly within the line of the shot, both, Tom Anderson and Matty Blair should’ve stopped the goal.

Doncaster Rovers Crystal Palace FA Cup Tactical Analysis

The second Crystal Palace goal proves to be just as poor and naive as the first goal, with Andros Townsend allowed to play a simple one-two with Miliviojevic, whilst not being followed. Both Ben Whiteman and Daniel Andrew are guilty of ball-watching as they completely lose Townsend after he played the pass inside to Miliviojevic.

Doncaster Rovers Crystal Palace FA Cup Tactical Analysis
Annotated image of build-up play for Crystal Palace’s second goal.

However, they are the only guilty parties for Doncaster, as when Townsend gets in front of goal, Max Meyer remains unmarked just five yards from goal, and has an easy tap in. Paul Downing is the guilty party this time, as he too is caught ball-watching, which allows Meyer the time and space to plant a header past Marko Marosi.

Final thoughts

Overall, the game proved to be an easy ride for the Crystal Palace defence, as, despite the high pressure, they were never really tested by a toothless Doncaster attack. However, in attack, Crystal Palace proved sharp and incisive, with the pace of Meyer, Townsend and Michy Batshuayi causing Doncaster all sorts of problems.

From a Doncaster point of view, the set-pieces proved to a big disappointment, as despite getting 11 corners in the entire match, only three of them found a Doncaster head, with four of the five first-half corners hitting the first man.

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