Weird and wonderful things usually happen when Peterborough United visit the Keepmoat Stadium.
A debut goal for Tyrone Barnett suggested Posh hadn’t just wasted over a million quid on a lumbering, lazy striker, while on the last visit two seasons ago Ricardo Santos briefly became popular among visiting fans thanks to a last-gasp strike and a bonkers celebration. Oh and Luke James scored here once - yes he really did.
Now a 0-0 draw between two sides managed by lovers of free-flowing attacking football doesn’t quite register a similar level of shock, but it did keep unbeaten Posh top of League One (and few saw that coming at the beginning of August), even if they failed to create club history by winning their opening five league matches of the season.
The presence of Shrewsbury alongside Posh at the top confirms little should be read into early-season form and standings, but if togetherness, stubbornness and defensive organisation are indicators of strength alongside the previously-viewed quality attacking play, the signs are at least promising.
Posh failed to play with the forward precision and pace that yielded two 4-1 wins in their previous two away matches, but, 24 hours after the fans honoured club legend Chris Turner, the players delivered a defensive effort that would have made the great man smile, briefly at least.
It was a shame there wasn’t much of a show as Posh had many more eyes on them than normal given the absence of Premier League and Championship fixtures. Members of the national press were sent to slum it in League One to see the highest-ranked available team in the country and probably left wondering what all the fuss was about, and why players (not even Maddison in this game, maybe there was a clause in his new contract banning unnecessary theatrics) were not rolling around in agony when tackled.
Doncaster boss Darren Ferguson used the skills and experience learnt from four promotions in a 10-year managerial career to match Posh up formation-wise. He reasoned that dominating the midfield battle was key as it enabled his wing-backs to play high up the pitch and make Gwion Edwards and Leo Da Silva Lopes defend more than attack. Keeping possession would also restrict the influence of Posh star Marcus Maddison - a player signed by Fergie - and it was a gameplan that worked for the most part, although the home side were so wasteful when they created rare openings of their own, Posh keeper Jonathan Bond had his quietest afternoon of the season as he registered his first clean sheet for the club.
Indeed the best two home opportunities arrived following Posh errors. Captain Jack Baldwin’s poor control gave John Marquis his chance in the 10th minute, but Bond was down quickly to save, while a poor Steven Taylor pass soon after the re-start led to Alfie May bearing down on goal before dithering so badly Baldwin was able to get back and tackle, one of many excellent moments from the skipper.
Taylor and Ryan Tafazolli were also impressive, almost as impressive as defensive midfielder Anthony Grant whose composure on the ball was matched by his alertness whenever danger threatened, most notably in the first 25 minutes when Doncaster occasionally developed two-on-one situations against Edwards.
Posh showed only glimpses of flair despite the constantly loud urgings from another impressive away following with Maddison rattling the crossbar from 25 yards midway through the first-half, not long before Edwards stung the hands of home ‘keeper Ian Lawlor with a fierce drive.
Top scorer Jack Marriott saw two half chances snuffed out firstly by centre-back Joe Wright and then by Lawlor, but Posh created little after the break until Taylor met Maddison’s 82nd minute corner with a firm header that flew straight at Lawlor.
Legend Turner would probably have scored from such an opportunity.
Posh: Jonathan Bond, Steven Taylor, Jack Baldwin, Ryan Tafazolli, Leo Da Silva Lopes (sub Andrew Hughes, 71 mins), Gwion Edwards, Michael Doughty, Anthony Grant, Marcus Maddison, Junior Morias (sub Idris Kanu, 62 mins), Jack Marriott.
Unused substitutes: Jermaine Anderson, Danny Lloyd, Conor O’Malley, Chris Forrester, Liam Shephard.
Doncaster: Ian Lawlor, Nial Mason (sub Jordan Houghton, 61 mins), Joe Wright, Andy Butler, Tyler Garratt, Matty Blair, Ben Whiteman, Tommy Rowe, James Coppinger (sub Liam Mandeville, 61 mins), John Marquis, Alfie May (sub Williams, 71 mins).
Unused substitutes: Marko Marosi, Craig Alcock, Harry Toffolo, Issam Ben Khemis.
Cautions: Posh - Grant (foul), Taylor (foul), Edwards (foul).
Doncaster - Mason (foul), Marquis (foul).
Referee: Graham Salisbury 6
Attendance: 8,677 (1,696 Posh).