Accrington Stanley analysis: Why have Doncaster Rovers stopped winning?
Lies, damned lies and statistics.
It is a gross exaggeration to say that Doncaster Rovers’ promotion push is stuttering after five games without a win.
Because, despite that sequence, they remain three points clear at the top of League Two and no fewer than ten ahead of fourth place.
The bigger picture is that Darren Ferguson’s men have lost one game in their last 13. Hardly ‘stuttering’.
But one or two things have caught up with Rovers over the last few weeks and they need to get a win under their belts quickly to stop this run becoming anything more serious than a blip.
A sense of frustration continued on Saturday when Rovers passed up a glorious opportunity to return to winning ways against a stubborn Accrington outfit.
They looked on course for victory after goals from Tommy Rowe and John Marquis cancelled out Shay McCartan’s shock fourth-minute strike.
But some wastefulness in front of goal ultimately cost them as substitute Jonny Edwards pounced from close range late on to earn Stanley a point.
NERVES CREEPING IN?
Rovers lacked composure in all aspects of their game against Stanley, so it is possible the winless run is starting to play on a few minds.
Centre-back pair Craig Alcock and Andy Butler were very jittery during the early exchanges.
Midfielders Harry Middleton and Conor Grant were guilty of giving away possession too cheaply too many times.
And Alfie May, substitute Andy Williams and Rowe - the latter’s gilt-edged miss at the death being the worst of them - were all guilty of spurning excellent goalscoring chances.
WHY HAVE ROVERS STOPPED WINNING?
The continuity that contributed to winning 11 out of 13 games between November and January has been disrupted by injuries to Mathieu Baudry and now Jordan Houghton.
Rovers last conceded more than one goal in a game at Plymouth on December 10. But since the Baudry and Butler partnership has been broken they have shipped two twice in their last three games, against Carlisle and Stanley.
The loss of Houghton has also robbed Rovers of one of their most consistent and important players.
Middleton has big boots to fill in that holding position but at times on Saturday looked nervous and tentative.
Rovers are also making life difficult for themselves. Missed chances have cost them against Carlisle and Accrington.
And in the last three home games they have gone behind. In the four previous they scored first and won them all.
VIEW FROM THE DUGOUT
Darren Ferguson: “It’s a disappointing result for us in a game where we wanted to get back to winning ways.
“But you start a game the way we did, going 1-0 down that early, it gives the opposition a massive lift and makes it doubly hard.
“We managed to get ourselves in the lead but we just didn’t get that third goal to kill the game off. We had so many opportunities to do it.
“I picked an attacking team because we’ve not been scoring enough goals recently.
“But we didn’t win enough second balls or do enough of the nitty-gritty in the middle of the pitch.”
Stanley boss John Coleman: “I think they’ll probably feel like it’s two points dropped after missing the chance at the end.
“To take the lead and then give away a soft goal, and then an even softer goal, is disappointing for me.
“I know we can play better than that and we can certainly defend better than that.
“We seemed to give Doncaster too much respect. They’re a good team.”