'Men versus boys at times' - Gary McSheffrey reacts to Doncaster Rovers' sobering defeat at Cheltenham Town
Rovers had travelled to the Jonny-Rocks Stadium with fresh hope in their quest for survival on the back of their spirited comeback draw at AFC Wimbledon and win over Accrington Stanley.
But another all too familiar heavy defeat left fans with an all too familiar sinking feeling – and leaves Rovers having to pick themselves up yet again for key fixtures against Gillingham and Fleetwood Town.
Boss Gary McSheffrey admitted afterwards it was ‘men versus boys at times’ as the Robins outmuscled his team and ran out 4-0 winners with the help of an Alfie May brace and a red card for midfielder Adam Clayton.
“We were really sloppy in the first half,” McSheffrey told BBC Radio Sheffield. “They got on every loose ball.
“We started the game sloppy with the kick-off and for the first five or ten minutes our decision-making, execution and sharpness just wasn’t at it.
“You could sense that they were up for it. They needed a response from last week.
“We gave away far too many freekicks but I think again it’s because we weren’t sharp enough and getting into areas and getting close to them.
“We ended up always arriving late and giving way too many freekicks away in the first half.
“If you give too many freekicks away then eventually they’re going to punish you. Alfie’s got some quality and he’s scored a good goal.
“We’ve lost 4-0 but I think Cheltenham have probably played a lot better than that,” he added.
“I don’t think they played great football today. They were just physically better than us, they were sharper than us and from set plays they were a lot bigger than us and they made the most of that. They used their physicality well.
“The damage was done in the first half. We were poor. It was down to our individual errors and poor decision-making.
“It was really frustrating because it was probably the best week’s preparation we’ve had since I’ve been here.
“The lads felt good. Everyone knew their roles and responsibilities but out on the pitch they didn’t play well enough.”
Clayton, on just his second start for Rovers, picked up his second yellow card of the game shortly after the restart after referee Peter Wright deemed he went into an aeriel challenge leading with his arm.
He had been brought into the side at the expense of defender Ro-Shaun Williams as part of a switch to a 4-2-3-1 formation, while Mipo Odubeko started in place of Reo Griffiths.
"Today I went for a few technical players over physicality and it probably wasn’t a game for that,” admitted McSheffrey.
“You expect players to get on the ball though and make good decisions. They’re good players, they can deal with a football.
“Too many today didn’t stamp their authority on the game.
“We looked a bit lightweight and at times it was men versus boys.”
Sandwiched in between some positive results last month, Rovers also lost 4-0 at Portsmouth and 5-0 at home to Rotherham United.
Rovers remain four points from safety after the bottom six teams in League One all lost.