Match Report: Doncaster Rovers 0 Bournemouth 1

Billy Paynter goes close. Picture: Steve Uttley.
Billy Paynter goes close. Picture: Steve Uttley.

This won’t be the last game that Doncaster lose this season.

But you can bet your bottom dollar that Paul Dickov will do everything in his power to make sure it’s the last one that Rovers lose like this.

The club’s bright and breezy return to the Championship has been based on principles of hard work, harassing the opposition, and quick one touch two touch passing.

But all three of those key facets went missing on a desperately disappointing afternoon during which a promising start to the season turned into a fairly ordinary one.

The momentum that Doncaster had built up against Blackburn, Wigan, Charlton, and even in patches against Leeds last week, came to a shuddering halt on Saturday.

Bournemouth began the game on the front foot and it was no surprise at all when Brett Pitman, albeit in slightly controversial fashion, deflected in what turned out to be the decisive goal on the half hour.

The Cherries were workmanlike and well organised.

Rovers, on the hand, could have played all night and not scored. It was one of those days - and Dickov was less than impressed.

“Without doubt it was the worst we’ve played this season.

“If anybody’s seen us play, even in the games we’ve lost, we’ve had a go, passed the ball and created stuff.

“But we were devoid of intensity and desire with and without the ball.

“Everyone knows that’s how I want us to play - there wasn’t enough of that out there on the pitch.

“I’ll take getting beaten all day long, and I’ll take not playing well and getting beaten, but to not have the intensity and work rate with and without the ball was the most disappointing thing.

“We didn’t string three passes together, and without the ball we didn’t press well as a unit.

“You’ve got to give Bournemouth credit. They came here and played well, but we didn’t do the things right that we wanted to do.

“Fans will forgive, I will forgive, if we have a group of individuals working as hard as they can.

“I’m not saying they didn’t work hard. We huffed and puffed. The intensity that has got us results so far just wasn’t there.”

The only goal of the game came from a contested free kick on Bournemouth’s right for a foul by James Husband, one of several decisions that Dickov took exception to.

Charlie Daniels’ in-swinging free kick was glanced in by Pitman as the visitors made their early dominance count.

It was a goal contested by Dickov, but there was no denying that the visitors deserved their lead.

“The goal was offside,” said a clearly agitated Dickov.

“He was two yards offside when he put it in.

“But it’s irrelevant because we should’ve defended it better.

“We started with a good line for the free kick and we’ve told them you have to drop by at least a yard.

“If they had done as they were told then we wouldn’t be arguing about an offside goal.

“I was unhappy with certain refereeing decisions,” he added.

“But we didn’t lose the game because of that.

“We lost the game because we weren’t good enough.”

Dickov’s assessment was spot on. Rovers lacked any sort of conviction and cutting edge, and they were laboured and sloppy with their passing.

There was very little for a sparse crowd to get excited about.

Mark Duffy came off the bench and momentarily injected some urgency into Doncaster’s play, breaking from deep inside his own half to help create Rovers’ best moment of the second half, a drilled shot from James Coppinger that whistled just past the upright.

At the other end, Ross Turnbull pulled off a stunning reflex save to deny Lewis Grabban from point blank range, at least keeping his side in the game.

But even when Rob Jones, so often Doncaster’s saviour, went up front for the final few moments, the home side looked worryingly short on conviction. The international break appears to have arrived at a good time.