Ben Sheaf scored his first professional goal and made two more starts for Doncaster Rovers this week, read on for a report on the performances.

Ben Sheaf playing against Gillingham with Doncaster Rovers (Photo by Shibu Preman/AHPIX)
Ben Sheaf playing against Gillingham with Doncaster Rovers (Photo by Shibu Preman/AHPIX)

In our last update, Doncaster Rovers fansite Into The Empty Net reported on the unfair criticism of Ben Sheaf from certain fans, and how the Arsenal loanee was starting to prove them wrong.

The midfielder has played two more matches since then, so here’s another report from the Rovers site.

Doncaster Rovers vs Gillingham and Shrewsbury

Ben Sheaf finally celebrated his first official goal for Doncaster in last week’s 2-1 defeat at Gillingham, netting a memorable strike with a 25-yard curler to put Rovers ahead in the game at Priestfield Stadium.

Manager Darren Moore explained afterwards that he had encouraged Ben to take more shooting opportunities and he did just that, making a designed run from a free-kick by Brad Halliday and turning onto his left foot before unleashing an unstoppable effort.

Ben did net in the 7-1 win away at Southend earlier in the season, but the strike was retrospectively designated as an own goal due to a big deflection off a defender, so this marked his first official goal in professional football, and it’s a well-deserved one for the young midfielder.

Although Rovers ended up on the losing side of the game having been reduced to ten men in the first half whilst in the lead, Ben’s performance was accomplished and his manager praised his aerial dominance as well as his composure with the ball at his feet throughout the game.

Ben was tangentially involved in the Gillingham equaliser as part of a zonal defensive formation at a corner. The ball whipped to the near post where defender Cameron John shanked the ball into his own net, with Sheaf stood behind him on the post, but in truth, there was little Ben could do about a moment of misfortune for Rovers.

John managed to score another own goal to gift Gillingham the win in the second half but Ben was nowhere near it this time, working as the furthest forward Rovers player in the press as the home side built an attack down the left-wing.

A bad result then, but a strong individual display from Ben, who followed that up with another solid display in tricky conditions at Shrewsbury this past Saturday. The wind played havoc with the match for both sides, but Ben showed again why he has the attributes to excel as a box-to-box midfielder by getting into good attacking positions.

He had a golden opportunity to double his goal tally for the season early in this game, making a terrific run into the penalty area unmarked and taking a lay-off from Jacob Ramsey, but got the finish all wrong and fired over the bar.

As opposed to the 4-2-3-1 set-up that usually sees Ben as part of a fluid central duo alongside Ben Whiteman, Darren Moore set the team up in a 4-4-2 Diamond for this game with Ben operating as a dynamic left-sided central midfielder. This allowed him more space to work the ball in attacking areas and led to him having a couple more shots on goal that he usually might.

He was able to use this position to turn provider for Ramsey in the second half, sending a deft ball into the middle which Ramsey took on before striking a post. Ben’s passing was strong again, although he was caught in possession a couple of times over the halfway line primarily due to losing a physical battle with Shrewsbury’s robust midfield players.

Overall, this has to go down as two more very good performances from Ben as he continues his development. At the time of writing, Ben has the third-highest pass accuracy percentage per game in League One, behind only his teammate Ben Whiteman and Fleetwood’s Paul Coutts.