Has it been a good season for Doncaster Rovers? These final five games could alter perceptions
There might be little more than pride to play for now but their five remaining games might just determine whether this has been a good season or not for Doncaster Rovers.
Rovers host Oxford United tomorrow, lodged firmly in mid-table. They sit 13th, pretty much safe but out of reach of the top six.
Following their promotion from League Two, and also bearing in mind the club’s recent brush with the Championship, it is a source of debate among supporters whether finishing there would constitute a successful campaign.
Has it been a good season?
“Ask me that in five games’ time,” said assistant boss Gavin Strachan, rather tellingly.
You get the impression that, inside and also outside the Rovers camp, anything less than a top half finish would be regarded as below par.
Boss Darren Ferguson has high standards, while a lot of Rovers fans have high expectations.
There was more than an air of disappointment following Tuesday night’s kamikaze 3-3 draw with relegated Bury, which all but ended any faint hopes of gatecrashing the top six.
The bigger picture is that Rovers have grown in stature as the season has gone on. But they still must finish well for the season to be labelled as an above average one.
“It’s been tough, it’s been really difficult, there’s been a lot to deal with, a lot of injuries to deal with and there’s been a lot of shuffling around,” reflected Strachan.
“We’ve had to bring people in at the last minute at certain times and we’ve had to dig deep. We’ve been in tough positions and good positions.
“But I’d like to think there has been progression from individual players and as a unit as well.
“Clearly the last minute goals and what happened on Tuesday [against Bury] to a certain extent - managing the game a bit better and dealing with the tough parts or the changing parts in games - are areas we need to improve.”
Against an Oxford side just four points clear of danger, Rovers must improve on their second half showing against Bury - a game which they were in complete control of until the Shakers scored the first of their three goals.
“There was a lot to learn from that,” said Strachan.
“The whole atmosphere was one of shock and ‘what’s going on here?’.
“I don’t think there have been that many games in which we have had that much control.
“The speed of their first goal and the manner of it just seemed to give everyone a shock.
“We’ve got enough experienced players to have just re-set things, start again and get back to basics.
“From there it just seemed really frantic and we were trying to chase the game. The counter attacks that they got in the second half were really from poor organisation and poor decision making.”