Doncaster Rovers fell to yet another crushing defeat away to Wigan Athletic on Saturday to go winless from six games to start their League One campaign.
It was a disappointing result for Rovers, having taken the lead. In particular, the concession of an equaliser almost immediately was an opportunity lost.
Manager Richie Wellens claimed that both the referee and his team’s fitness levels didn’t help their cause at the DW Stadium.
“I’m here fighting for my life and you get officials that cannot see the most blatant offside you will ever see,” blasted Wellens via the Yorkshire Post.
“I feel like I’ve run over another black cat, but I’ll pick my players up. We arrived with a game-plan, but it’s not the game-plan we want to do long-term.
“We tried to frustrate them, did that to a tee and we go 1-0 up, but then the referee gives a pathetic free-kick away which they scored from.
“I’ll get fined for going over the top but they (the officials) won’t get fined for their performance. I’m proud of my players because I thought they were very good.”
Wellens went on to admit that the fitness of Jordy Hiluwa and Joe Dodoo forced a change in tactical plans. His team sat back and defended for the start of the game, abandoning their high pressing strategy.
However, with 20 minutes left and the score at 2-1, Doncaster finally reverted to their original game plan, but they couldn’t find the equaliser they were looking for.
On the bright side, Tommy Rowe ended the club’s scoring drought with their first goal in eight games (697 minutes). That was also Rowe’s first goal of the season.
Doncaster are rooted to the bottom of the League One table with one point, three adrift of safety. The Rovers are also only one of three teams to remain winless this far into the current campaign.
It’s been a poor start to the season for Doncaster. However, the point earned against Portsmouth could prove to be a good result and is something to still build on.
Wellens is only just getting started and if a lack of match fitness is still a concern for key players then he will need those men ready to get behind the implementation of this high pressing strategy.
They have avoided any embarrassing defeats in the league and have been losing close games. They’ve had their fair share of possession, the Wigan game was the first time that dipped below 45% this season, and they’ve limited their opponents’ chances. But they are also simply not creating enough chances of their own given the amount of the ball they’re seeing so far.