Rovers will be ‘100 per cent ready’ for crunch part of the cam­paign

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - FOOTBALL - Email: robert.gled­ Twit­ter: @RGled­hillYPS­port Robert Gled­hill


MAN­AGER Grant McCann wanted Don­caster Rovers to be star­ing down from the top this morn­ing.

In­stead he sees his side look­ing up from sixth af­ter two suc­ces­sive de­feats.

But af­ter a home maul­ing by Fleet­wood Town made more galling by de­feats for the top two, Portsmouth and Peter­bor­ough, McCann says the next batch of a dozen games will be cru­cial.

Don­caster had been la­belled some­thing of a soft touch at times last sea­son and that fail­ing again sur­faced against a com­bat­ive Fleet­wood side whose no-non­sense ap­proach en­abled them to take con­trol and pro­duce the bet­ter foot­ball.

True, player-of-the-month John Mar­quis should have had a first-half hat-trick and, true, Rovers handed Fleet­wood all four goals, but Don­caster know now that they must con­tinue to win in­di­vid­ual bat­tles to thrive as a team.

Ali Craw­ford was one of the few Rovers play­ers to take pos­i­tives.

The former Hamil­ton mid­field player has not started since the first game of the sea­son when he suf­fered me­dial knee lig­a­ment dam­age.

So he was eager to en­ter the fray even with Rovers hope­lessly adrift at 4-0 within 49 min­utes.

Craw­ford, 27, with over 200 ap­pear­ances be­hind him in Scot­land, said: “With Peter­bor­ough and Portsmouth los­ing that makes it even tougher to take be­cause we could have closed the gap.

“It’s been a bad day at the of­fice, but we dust our­selves down and go again at Rochdale with a good week’s train­ing un­der our belt.

“The boys have been fly­ing in Septem­ber and, with hav­ing been com­ing back from in­jury, it’s been tough to get back in be­cause they have done so well.”

Of his come­back he con­tin­ued: “It is tough com­ing on like that, but I just need to try and do my best and cre­ate chances. Ev­ery time you come on you try to im­press, es­pe­cially com­ing back from in­jury. You just want to try and get back in the team and into the gaffer’s thoughts for next week­end.”

Man­ager McCann was not in the mood to let one bad re­sult dis­tract him.

“Yes, it is a bit­ter pill to swal­low,” he said. “As a team we made four mis­takes that cost us the game. I know it sounds re­ally strange, but I thought we played well in the first half in terms of chances we cre­ated. It was a tale of both boxes and we got what we de­served. If you don’t take your chances and you de­fend like that you are go­ing to get pun­ished no mat­ter who you are against.

“We are all hu­man be­ings, we all make mis­takes and here we made four and it cost us. It is frus­trat­ing. But in terms of our first mini-cy­cle of 12 games we have had a tremen­dous start.

“You have seen how tough this league is with (Satur­day’s) re­sults. If you want to step off it and take your fin­ger off the pulse then you can get hurt.”

One thing he was puz­zled by was the re­ac­tion of the crowd. “Even though we were 3-0 down I found it very strange to hear us get­ting booed off the pitch at half­time even though we were third in the league,” he added.

McCann, hop­ing for bet­ter news on cap­tain Andy But­ler, who had to de­part af­ter dam­ag­ing his col­lar bone with Rovers hav­ing al­ready used three sub­sti­tutes, be­lieves the busi­ness part of the sea­son starts at Rochdale.

“We are into our next 12 games and this is when it mat­ters. These next 12 games can see teams near the top start to pull away from those be­low and we have got to make sure we are one of them and I have said to the group we will be – 100 per cent we will be.”

On play­ing the same side who had lost 1-0 at Ac­cring­ton Stan­ley, McCann said: “I was not tempted to make changes as those 11 had ba­si­cally given us our 21 points. That is the rea­son why we have been in and around it, play­ing a set­tled team, a con­fi­dent team. We will pick our­selves up and go again.”

Rovers picked them­selves up af­ter Sh­effield United loa­nee striker Ched Evans scored his sixth goal in 10 games for Fleet­wood from the penalty spot in the fourth minute af­ter be­ing brought down on the right side of the area by goal­keeper Marko Marosi.

Her­bie Kane bent a free-kick nar­rowly over, Mal­lik Wilks had a fierce shot beaten away and both Mar­quis and Joe Wright headed good chances off tar­get.

Mar­quis pro­duced a weak chip at Don­caster-born goal­keeper Alex Cairns be­fore Wright was over­pow­ered by James Wal­lace, who headed home.

Ash­ley Eastham made Mar­quis pay for spoon­ing over a stop­page­time chance when he headed in the third just be­fore the break and Ash­ley Hunter raced on to make it 4-0 in the 49th minute af­ter Wright at­tempted a fancy turn in pos­ses­sion and was robbed.

There was no way back for the hosts as Fleet­wood recorded their first vic­tory at the Keep­moat.

The league takes shape 100 per cent in the next 12 games. Don­caster Rovers man­ager Grant McCann looks ahead.


OP­POR­TU­NITY MISSED: Don­caster Rovers striker John Mar­quis heads wide un­der pres­sure from Craig Morgan in the se­cond half against Fleet­wood Town at the Keep­moat Sta­dium.

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