Tyreece John-Jules finally returned from the thigh injury he picked up on international duty at the beginning of October last week, and it’s fair to say he has picked up where he left off.
The young striker impressed in his initial few appearances on loan at Doncaster Rovers, topped off by a great goal in the side’s first win of the season at Charlton in September. He has been sorely missed up front since then, with Darren Moore left with only Fejiri Okenabirhie as a central option up front leading to inevitable fatigue as the games come thick and fast.
John-Jules returned to the substitute’s bench for last Wednesday night’s clash with Yorkshire rivals Hull City, who lead the League One table at present. The Arsenal man was brought on with 65 minutes played and Rovers chasing the game, moving into a two-man attack alongside Okenabirhie. He began to stretch the Tigers’ defence with his movement and help the team to push forward into the attacking third more easily, and showed his quality to score the equalising goal on 81 minutes.
Southampton loanee Josh Sims got the better of two Hull players down the right flank and put a ball low into the penalty area, where John-Jules ran on to finish calmly and make it 1-1, marking his return with a goal. Although Rovers went on to lose the game 2-1 in the end, the striker had done enough to prove his match fitness and earn a recall to the starting line-up for Saturday’s trip to Northampton.
Starting in place of Okenabirhie as the sole striker in Rovers’ 4-2-3-1 set-up, John-Jules was busy from the off and led the press well, although an early red card for Northampton meant they sat deep and deployed a low block, restricting space for the forwards to operate in. However, his chance came in the 36th minute as Joe Wright won possession high up the field and it broke to John-Jules, who turned quickly in space on the edge of the box before dinking the ball past the onrushing goalkeeper to make it 1-0.
In the second half, manager Darren Moore opted to switch back to the two-striker formation with John-Jules central alongside Okenabirhie to try and press the team’s one-man advantage, with the young Gunner playing off the defensive line and Okenabirhie dropping deep to try and hold the ball up. He was very nearly on the end of a Reece James cross around the hour mark but it was Wright who eventually bundled the ball over the line to make it 2-0.
John-Jules had a great chance to put the game out of Northampton’s sight with a brilliant bit of technical skill soon after, taking a right-wing delivery out of the air with poise at the back post and firing on the half volley, but the Cobblers keeper was equal to it on this occasion. He was withdrawn after 78 minutes with the game wrapped up and was duly awarded the Man of the Match award for his efforts by Rovers fans, and now has three goals in just six league outings for the club this season.