Arsenal loanee Ben Sheaf had an off-day against Oxford United last weekend, and we spoke to a Doncaster Rovers fansite to find out what went wrong.
For the most part, Sheaf seems to have had a fairly positive loan spell so far, but he still has areas for improvement. That’s no bad thing, as there wouldn’t be much point sending him on loan if he couldn’t test himself and figure out where he needs to improve.
Ben Sheaf continues to show his poise and technical talent as he holds down a starting berth in the Doncaster side, although back-to-back defeats in the last two games have left most of the squad looking somewhat forlorn and Ben wasn’t at his best in our latest loss.
Ben continues to play as the combative foil for captain Ben Whiteman in midfield, operating as the deeper-lying member of the duo in a conventional 4-2-3-1 formation. In our last home game against Portsmouth, Ben’s positional discipline and tactical awareness were crucial in the way Darren Moore’s side imposed themselves on the play, holding a lion’s share of 62% possession and hitting 26 shots on goal.
He showed confidence to help push the team forward and distributed several lovely cross-field high passes to wide areas, switching play for the team and enabling numerous chances once the ball was worked into the area.
Although the game ended in a 2-1 defeat thanks to a late header from Ellis Harrison against the run of play, Rovers were by far the better side on the day and were unfortunate not to come away with anything, so Ben can be pleased with his performance despite a couple of errant passes when searching for an option in the attacking third.
In the following game away at Oxford, Rovers were well beaten on the day by a 3-0 scoreline and struggled to muster up much in the way of quality. Ben was part of a midfield that simply couldn’t live with the best Oxford had to offer so it was a real off-day for the whole team.
Unfortunately, Ben failed to track James Henry outside the area for the opener, as Henry unleashed a fierce 25-yard drive into the goal after finding a pocket of space to Ben’s left and in front of the defence. Ben was also at fault for the second goal as he completely lost Cameron Brannagan running into the area and was unable to stop the square ball going past him for Brannagan to lash home.
It was by no means an individual disaster but Ben’s defensive deficiencies off-the-ball were shown up in this game despite his solid work in midfield on a tough afternoon for Rovers. There is little doubt however that he will retain his place for the home game with Bristol Rovers on Saturday, where Ben will be hoping to make amends alongside his teammates.
Give Into The Empty Net a follow on Twitter to stay updated on Sheaf and his loan team this season! Sheaf is next in action against Bristol Rovers at 15:00 BST on Saturday.