Doncaster Rovers: Luton defeat ‘was a big wake-up call’

It was a defeat that was sobering for Doncaster Rovers at a pivotal stage of the season.

Thursday, 4th April 2019, 6:00 pm
Grant McCann

Swept aside by champions-elect Luton Town, Rovers turned in arguably their worst performance of the season in the process.

It was a sorry afternoon that left plenty questioning whether they had the stomach for the on-going battle for a top six finish in League One.

But the questions were quickly answered with back to back home wins that brought seven goals and a return to the ruthless attacking play which has powered a strong campaign.

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Boss Grant McCann pointed to the events of the trip to Luton as a wake-up call which his players have accepted and reacted to in the best possible manner.

"I think the penny dropped with a few after that Luton game," he told the Free Press.

"We realised we need more, we need better.

"There is so much more to come from us really.

"I think it maybe hit a few of us. We were so far away from Luton on the day. We didn't play well but they were excellent.

"We need to give ourselves a shake if we're going to have a chance.

"The response from the group has been first class, either on the training ground, in the games."

McCann says the big message to takeaway from Kenilworth Road was that Rovers cannot afford to carry any players through the final few games of the season.

He said: "It's a fine balance of getting a top performance and a win, an average performance and a win or when you're not playing your best can you dig out a result.

"Predominately we've been good at it but on the day at Luton we were just miles away.

"It was probably a big reality check for everyone that when we're not at our best we can't be carrying five or six players.

"Maybe one or two you can get away with but not five or six.

"I think it was a big wake up call for us all."

The Rovers boss has consistently promoted a mindset of not being too concerned about the opposition team in the build-up to games.

But he now believes there had been some worries in the camp about coming up against a Luton side unbeaten in their previous 24 matches and seemingly unstoppable in their pursuit of a place in the Championship.

McCann however is delighted with the response since the defeat and is pleased with the momentum built with consecutive high scoring wins over Bristol Rovers and Walsall.

"Maybe that day we did worry a bit too much about Luton," he said.

"Although it wasn't really mentioned, it was maybe there in the back of people's minds.

"From the minute we left Luton and the next time we trained we were fully focused on winning the two home games.

"They were two games we had to win and we've won them.

"Now we can approach the next game with confidence, belief and momentum.

"We've got a real opportunity."