Team selection, shape and an early change - The key quotes from Doncaster Rovers boss Gary McSheffrey following Gillingham defeat

Gary McSheffrey was quizzed about his team selection following Doncaster Rovers’ defeat to relegation rivals Gillingham.

By Paul Goodwin
Sunday, 13th March 2022, 11:53 am
Updated Sunday, 13th March 2022, 11:59 am
Gary McSheffrey. Picture: Howard Roe/AHPIX LTD
Gary McSheffrey. Picture: Howard Roe/AHPIX LTD

Matt Smith was a surprise omission from the starting XI but the energetic midfielder replaced wing back Ben Jackson before the half hour mark.

Ro-Shaun Williams returned in the middle of a back three, while striker Joe Dodoo made his first start for a month up front alongside loanee Mipo Odubeko.

Here’s what McSheffrey said about his team selection, shape and the other key talking points from a potentially costly defeat to the Gills.

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Team selection and leaving out Matt Smith

We went back to a back three stroke back five.

We were unlucky with a couple of injuries that occured on Thursday with Tom [Anderson] and then Ollie Younger got a dead leg.

We wanted to get two strikers on the pitch, we wanted to get Josh Martin on the pitch, and Ethan Galbraith as well – we’ve brought a really good player back into the team from the start.

We were trying to get players on the pitch with that little bit more end product but I think in the first 15, 20 minutes we probably missed the way Smudger [Matt Smith] presses well from behind the ball. He nicks it and wins possession well.

But when you’ve got options you have to make decisions. It’s not just from strikers, we’re in a position where we need end product from midfielders and we need them chipping in with assists and goals and we’ve not really been getting that. That was that decision was for.

Matt wasn’t carrying a knock. It was a change to bring Ethan back in, an international footballer. I thought Ethan did all right, he got on the ball for us as he normally does and controlled it at times. But ultimately we needed more in the final third.

First half substitution and team shape

We made a change because Ben Jackson was injured. Rowey went out to the left so we kept the same shape (3-5-2).

I think we’ve looked quite solid from that shape in previous games.

It was about getting a couple of strikers on the pitch, along with Josh Martin. You’re at home and you want attacking players on the pitch to try and score goals.

Josh got a couple of good efforts off and found quite a lot of the ball in the second half especially. We just need a bit more killer instinct in the final third.

Lack of cutting edge

We needed to put it in the mixer a little bit more.

When we get to 35-40 yards out on the angle it’s a good crossing position and we chose to turn back a bit too much and keep possession, recycle it and switch play again.

They’re fine with that. They’ll just shuffle over and keep in their two banks and leave the big man up top.

We needed to ask them a few more questions by trying to force some errors.

Because we were over-playing at times then when you do put it in some people are not expecting it to come in. You need to be able smell where you can be a danger and a threat to the opposition. That’s where we’re lacking.

Conceding in the first minute from a long throw

Someone’s got to want to put their head on it. Maybe the goalkeeper coming and wanting to punch it. I think Tommy Rowe could probably swing his right foot at it and try and clear it.

Everybody’s just expecting someone else to do something.

The communication levels obviously weren’t there and that’s the most disappointing thing because you should be starting the game really switched on.

It’s a gimme for them.

Someone has to take ownership, make first contact on the ball and it wouldn’t have been a problem.