The Takeaway: After saying the right things, Doncaster Rovers fail to back it up in awful defeat to Wigan Athletic

This was the week when the penny was meant to have dropped for Doncaster Rovers.

Saturday, 10th April 2021, 9:18 pm

The week when the players had demonstrated to their manager, both on the training ground and across the meeting table, that they had the stomach and, more importantly, the desire to right the plethora of recent wrongs.

Yet, they end the week having suffered a horrendous 4-1 defeat to a Wigan Athletic side that started the game entrenched deeply in the relegation zone.

And they do so with many of them having failed to show anything even close to resembling desire.

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Taylor Richards tries to get the better of Wigan's Curtis Tilt. Picture: Howard Roe/AHPIX

For the second consecutive game they were deservedly beaten by a side who simply wanted it more than they did.

When it came to hard running, either on or off the ball, too many players fell far too short of the standard they needed to produce.

Rovers found themselves a goal down after three minutes when failing to deal with a ball into the box that allowed Joe Dodoo to rifle home.

Twelve minutes later and more atrocious defending allowed Thelo Aasgaard into to double the advantage.

While they had shot themselves in the foot in defensive terms, what they did in attack was hardly aiding their cause.

Off the ball movement was terrible, with players failing to give teammates options for a pass and only accelerating the turnover in possession.

It ensured that the gaps between players were far too wide and made it all too easy for Wigan to dominate with their press.

The visitors extended their advantage with a fine passing move capped off by Viv Solomon-Otabor - though no one of a Rovers persuasion will be pleased with the ease in which Wigan passed their way around them.

It prompted Andy Butler in a double switch after just 38 minutes, sending on John Bostock and Taylor Richards. Opting for resolve had done him no good, and it was time for supposed attacking quality.

Richards delivered with a trademark goal in first half stoppage time as he drove forward and curled in a beauty from the edge of the box.

Unfortunately, he failed to produce the same again after the break as he joined a raft of other players in wilting.

Rovers were better in the second half, which was not difficult. But after a bright start to the period the danger they posed only diminished, even before they were picked off so easily on the break with Will Keane adding Wigan’s fourth.

Butler labelled the performance as embarrassing and it was hard to disagree, particularly with too many players again allowing accusations of a lack of effort to be justifiably thrown their way.

Barring an unforeseen personal intervention of his own, Butler will be Rovers’ manager until the end of the season.

His hopes of that status lasting beyond the final game of the campaign have been severely, perhaps even fatally, damaged by a downturn in form that has spiralled out of control.

And unfortunately for him, he is relying on this squad of players to help him state his case for a long-term appointment.

Individuals who have looked him in the eye over the last week and assured him that they are up for the fight.

Multiple individuals that have yet again failed to back up words with actions.

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In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.