The Takeaway: Lack of confidence endemic as Doncaster Rovers crumble against Burton Albion
Of all the blows and defeats Doncaster Rovers have suffered over the last couple of months, this was perhaps the most damning.
It was not that they were completely hopeless against Burton Albion - as they had been in Saturday’s loss to Wigan Athletic - or that they had been outclassed.
Instead it was the fact they completely folded at the first sight of a setback, which in turn delivered a clear indication of how low confidence is within the group.
The fact they produced their best half of football in weeks, if not months, holds little meaning when you take into account how thoroughly feeble they were once they had fallen behind.
When Burton’s Lucas Akins lashed in from the edge of the area after Rovers had been countered against so simply just before the hour mark, it was effectively the end of the contest.
The fight visibly drained out of Rovers and they were easy prey for their on-form visitors, who did not need to produce much more than hard running to extend their advantage through Tom Hamer and Hayden Carter and wrap up the game in comfortable fashion.
It had looked as though things were going well for Rovers.
Andy Butler’s switch to a standard 4-4-2 gave them a defensive rigidity but also added presence in the final third.
They moved the ball with requisite energy and, at times, directness as they succeeded in dragging an opposition side out of shape like they have not done for months.
The questions and doubts about mentality, desire and dedication that have justifiably been asked of certain players were answered in positive fashion with the first half performance.
All players involved worked their socks off to counter the strong press from Burton and help the team find its flow.
They were unfortunate to not go in ahead at the break with Burton keeper Ben Garratt somehow managing to keep out a close range effort from Tom Anderson.
While this was a timely demonstration of threat as well as commitment from a Rovers side that have had a questionable amount of either in recent weeks, what followed was a reminder that no one wanted to see.
Akins’ goal - coming on the counter from a Rovers set piece - killed Rovers instantly.
And the swiftness with which it ended their competitiveness in the contest, hammered home just how shot confidence is within the camp.
There has been much talk of transferring the positive work on the training ground into competitive matches.
The major problem for this group of players is that no matter how well they are prepared in tactical, knowledge and fitness terms, they are relying on themselves individually to conquer the demons in their minds.
The finger of suspicion may have been pointed towards certain individuals when it came to the question of commitment, but the issue of confidence is endemic within the group.
Every single player in the side made mistakes between Akins’ 59th minute opener and the final whistle.
And for that reason is why there is no real light at the end of the tunnel in this horrendous run of form that has now delivered 11 defeats from their last 16 outings.