Match analysis: Colchester 4 Rovers 1 - “Embarrassing. No character. No leaders. Shambles.”

Doncaster's manager Darren Ferguson looks on as Colchester's Gavin Massey celebrates his goal

Doncaster's manager Darren Ferguson looks on as Colchester's Gavin Massey celebrates his goal

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There can be no better words to describe the performance from Doncaster Rovers in this ever-so damaging defeat than the simple ones Darren Ferguson used in fury afterwards.

“Embarrassing. No character. No leaders. Shambles.”

Gary McSheffrey scored on his debut - but the afternoon turned sour for Rovers.

Gary McSheffrey scored on his debut - but the afternoon turned sour for Rovers.

Rovers capitulated in the most complete manner imaginable against a Colchester United side who started the day bottom of the table and that has been in the bottom four since December.

They had led at half time courtesy of new signing Gary McSheffrey but sat back and allowed their hosts to wash over them after the break.

Once Colchester got a foot in the door, they smashed it down to absolutely no resistance from a Rovers outfit bereft of confidence and looking severely lacking in stomach for the fight ahead.

Four goals in 25 minutes - including two inside 60 seconds - saw the game turned on its head in devastating fashion.

Darren Ferguson pulled no punches in his assessment of Rovers' "shambolic" defeat

Darren Ferguson pulled no punches in his assessment of Rovers' "shambolic" defeat

A sixth consecutive defeat. One point from 33 available. Now 22nd in the table. The stats are damning.

But when you take into account that yesterday they became the first side to lose at the Weston Homes Community Stadium in the league since October, the picture grows only more bleak.

There is the hope that victory on Monday in the must-win clash with Blackpool could see Rovers out of the bottom four.

But right now there is barely a single shred of evidence to suggest this side is capable of beating anyone.

This is a group of players that can so easily be broken, even by teams who seemingly have no right to even bend an opposition.

And that is the biggest concern as they stand on the trapdoor to League Two.

It had all been going okay during what was admittedly dull and dire first half. Rovers were organised enough, if a little vulnerable in wide areas.

Colchester enjoyed the better of the ball in the early stages but, other than a deflected near post chance for Chris Porter, they barely looked like troubling debutant keeper Remi Matthews - one of three changes with McSheffrey and Tommy Rowe also coming in.

So all was rosy when James Coppinger raked a sublime diagonal ball from inside his own half, allowing McSheffrey to race through and slot calmly under Elliott Parrish with 21 minutes gone.

Rovers could hardly have been more comfortable in their lead even if they did not particularly look like adding to it.

But then half time came and it all went wrong.

The expected Colchester surge arrived in early in the second half and Rovers dropped deep to deal with it. But the major problem came when they remained on the back foot and showed no desire to come off it.

Colchester swamped forward constantly, led by the excellent Gavin Massey who tore Cedric Evina to pieces.

So there was a major worry when Colchester did grab their equaliser. Massey was the architect, surging past Evina and cutting back to Chris Porter who had time to recover from a poor first touch and lash past Matthews.

Could Rovers come off the back foot after spending 15 minutes on it?

The fact they were 3-1 down within the next ten minutes is sufficient enough an answer.

Elliott Lee cut in off the left and curled an absolute stunner from the corner of the box beyond a helpless Matthews.

Then, exactly 60 seconds later, Rovers inexplicably allowed space for Alex Gilbey to shoot from 30 yards and watched jaws agape as the ball smashed into the top corner.

It was a capitulation the likes of which you could not believe. Rovers were done and dusted with 18 minutes left to play and might as well have started the long and arduous journey home.

But Colchester were not done and stuck the knife in further when substitute Richard Brindley slotted home as he ran onto George Moncur’s saved effort unopposed.

No character. No leaders. And only two days to find 11 of them if another devastating defeat is to be avoided.

Colchester: Parish, Edwards, Chambers (Kent 17), Eastman, Shorey, Massey, Gilbey, Garvan, Lee (Brindley 80), Moncur, Porter (Bonne 82). Subs not used: Barnes, Wright, Lapslie, Ambrose.

Rovers: Mattheews, Taylor-Sinclair, Alcock, Butler, Butler, Evina (MacKenzie 65), Coppinger (Calder 74), Middleton, Rowe, Stewart (Williams 67), McSheffrey, Tyson. Subs not used: Stuckmann, Keegan, Chaplow, Mandeville.

Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)

Attendance: 3,771 (379 away)

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