Paul Goodwin: Doncaster Rovers MUST become harder to beat and cut out these costly mistakes

Darren Ferguson
Darren Ferguson

Only in exceptional circumstances would Darren Ferguson even consider setting his Doncaster Rovers team up, first and foremost, not to lose a game.

Understandably, the Carabao Cup experience at Arsenal was one night the Scot did err on the side of caution.

His game plan has always been based on high energy, high pressing, playing out from the back and a degree of attacking fluidity. The clear mindset is to get at the opposition and win the game.

But if Doncaster Rovers do not make themselves harder to beat - and start doing the fundamentals better as a matter of urgency - they face another season of struggle back in League One.

They head to fellow strugglers Bury tomorrow on the back of their worst, and most fragile, display of the season against Walsall last weekend, a self-inflicted 3-0 defeat that set one or two alarm bells off at the Keepmoat Stadium.

When Rovers have won in the league this season, on just four occasions, they have tended to do it in rather impressive fashion.

When they get their tails up, they could potentially steamroller anyone in this division.

But all too often they have gifted the points to the opposition through avoidable mistakes at both ends of the pitch and until that habit relents they can forget about challenging anywhere near the top end of the table.

There have been ‘good performances’ and ‘fine margins’ maybe, but how many teams have really had to play out of their skin to beat Rovers this season? Leaders Shrewsbury looked good at the Keepmoat, Rochdale had Rovers rattled for 45 minutes and Charlton could have won by more than one at The Valley.

The problem, highlighted spectacularly against Walsall, has been that a costly individual mistake seems to be lurking around every corner - and it is those errors that, more often than not, have handed the points on a plate to the opposition.

Against Ferguson’s better judgement perhaps, he might just return to the formation he used at the Emirates at Gigg Lane tomorrow: 5-4-1 out of possession, with James Coppinger and Tommy Rowe doing their best to support John Marquis when Rovers turnover the ball.

He will not be going there for a draw by any means. But if Rovers do not become more robust, and cut out the mistakes, then they are at risk of continuing their current trajectory: one step forward and two back.