Richie Wellens explains change of tactics in Doncaster Rovers' defeat at Wigan

Jordy Hiwula and Joe Dodoo’s lack of match fitness forced Doncaster Rovers boss Richie Wellens into a tactical re-think against Wigan Athletic.

Monday, 13th September 2021, 6:00 am
Jordy Hiwula

Under normal circumstances Wellens wants his team to press high and get on the front foot.

But his team sat back at the DW Stadium and were content to let the Latics have the ball while looking to break quickly.

The ploy almost paid off when Tommy Rowe fired Rovers ahead against the run of play midway through the first half.

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But Will Keane was allowed a free header from a freekick to equalise almost instantly before prodding home a second half winner from close range despite Doncaster’s protests for offside.

Rovers failed to muster any attacking threat after falling behind and Rowe’s goal turned out to be their only shot on target.

But Wellens pointed to the fitness of Hiwula and Dodoo – both making their league debuts for Rovers – as a key factor in his tactical approach and also how the game played out.

"Our game plan was to sit off and frustrate them,” said Wellens.

“We knew they'd resort to long diagonal balls to Charlie Wyke with the winger coming in and the full back going high and that's what happened.

“When you're in a low block and they take the lead and go 2-1 up then they don't get frustrated because they're happy to play it along the back.

“So we decided with 20 minutes to go to make changes and go with the high press. We wanted to go with that at the start but it was difficult with the leg power in the team.

“We wanted to press them in the last 20 minutes. We probably didn't do enough [when we went 2-1 down] but we're asking Jordy Hiwula to go through stages and Joe Dodoo to go through stages they've not been through yet.

“They haven't got to 60 and 70 minutes, they've been out for a long time.

“But, again, if the referee doesn't make that decision [for the freekick for the first goal] we can continue with our game plan.”

Hiwula and Dodoo both played the full 90 minutes at Wigan after making their Rovers debuts against Rotherham in the Papa John’s Trophy last week.

Hiwula suffered an ankle injury against Sheffield United in pre-season, while Dodoo has not played since May.