The Takeaway: What use is self-reflection if there are no honest answers? - Doncaster Rovers hit rock bottom against Fleetwood Town

Self-reflection has been high on the agenda at Doncaster Rovers over the last couple of months. But to what end?

Sunday, 25th April 2021, 12:34 am
Updated Sunday, 25th April 2021, 7:40 am

Questioning oneself over contribution or commitment is meant to bring about improvement where needed. The acknowledgement of errors and flaws with the intent to rectify them.

You learn more from defeats than you do wins.

After yet another hapless performance and sorry defeat, you have to ask what answers Rovers players have given themselves when asking questions in the mirror.

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Andy Butler cuts a lonely figure after the defeat to Fleetwood. Picture: Howard Roe/AHPIX

For almost three months, barring a few very fleeting bright spots, they have turned in performances that have simply not been good enough, whatever scale of measurement you would choose.

Not enough quality, not enough fight, not enough energy, not enough smarts.

And rather than making any real form of positive progress, the trend in the quality of performances has been a downward one.

Though their clash with Fleetwood Town somehow and mercifully only ended with a 1-0 defeat, it felt like a particularly low point in the deep valley of disappointment that has been these recent months.

There was an admirable attempt to control possession in a way they have not for some time.

But it came with a lack of tempo and an absence of the requisite workrate in key areas to ensure Rovers were, frankly, benign.

Deep midfield pair Matt Smith and Scott Robertson dropped deep to receive the ball from the back but found the distance between themselves and their more advanced colleagues much too great.

As the pair looked to feed balls forward, they were met with a woeful lack of effective movement into space from attacking players.

And it only invited forward a Fleetwood side keen to press, which made life even tougher for Rovers.

The disappointment, as with so many recent games, was the fact it would not have taken much to really take control.

The first half felt more akin to a pre-season friendly than a competitive League One clash.

Yet, while Fleetwood approached it with professionalism and a dedication to their gameplan, Rovers went to pieces.

The second half in particular was awful and it was quickly clear that when they fell behind there would be no road back.

The game’s solitary goal was poor from a Rovers perspective. Barrie McKay picked up the ball and the left and coasted past stand-in right back Joe Wright before lashing under Louis Jones from a tight angle with no pressure from a defence in little rush to get across to cover.

The lack of threat from a side supposedly chasing the game was embarrassing. Barring a Reece James shot that found the sidenetting, they never went close to levelling.

Soft, clueless, lacking ideas and toothless - this was the nadir of a horrendous run.

As they prepare to face a rampant Peterborough United side gunning for the League One title on Tuesday, Rovers are desperate for a little more self-reflection.

But most of all, they need to start delivering brutally honest answers on their own shortcomings.


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.