Confidence and pressure 'were factors but not the only causes' of Doncaster Rovers' decline

It is a sad fact that the last two performances for Doncaster Rovers have been anomalies when taken in the context of the last three months.

Monday, 3rd May 2021, 4:51 pm

A run of 21 matches brought four wins with only one or two more pleasing performances during that time as Rovers dramatically slid from automatic promotion hopefuls to out of play-off contention.

In trying to determine why Rovers finally managed to turn the corner with their impressive showings against Peterborough United and Rochdale, boss Andy Butler believes a whole range of factors have been at play, which also explain the decline itself.

“I still believe we’re a young side that’s not had this situation before, with the pressure of a play-off push,” he said.

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Rovers players after conceding a goal against Fleetwood

“Maybe that is a factor, with not many players being in this situation.

“You could look at it that way or you could look at it that there wasn’t a lot of pressure because a lot of the players haven’t felt it.

“We just got away from the performances. Performance-wise, we weren’t good enough.

“There wasn’t enough hard running or penetrative passes to hurt opposition teams.

“We became predictable and lethargic in our performances.”

Jason Lokilo and Taylor Richards who are two players in particular who have appeared rejuvenated in the last couple of matches.

“Confidence plays a big part in players’ games,” Butler said.

“When you look at Jason’s last two performances, he must be riding high on cloud nine, because he’s shown what he is capable of. He’s just got to find that consistency.

“Taylor has now scored 11 goals this season, which is brilliant. He said he’d only played 14 games at the most before and now he’s played 40 which shows the demands we have put on these young players.

“It’s been difficult for them because it’s been a big learning curve with a lot of fixture congestion.

“I believe we’ve seen tiredness and fatigue creep into them. We’ve managed that and there will be times in every season when you get fixture congestion.

“The sports science and medical department have been excellent in making sure the players are prepared.

“The youthful nature of our squad, it impacted us towards the back end of the season.”

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