DONCASTER Rovers drew a blank for the first time this season in Sunday’s home defeat against Crawley.
Rovers had been hoping to record three successive league victories at the start of the season for the first time since the 1994-95 campaign, but lost their 100 per cent record after conceding a late winner.
It was the first time in four league and cup games that Rovers had failed to score this season.
“We had chances in the first half but they didn’t go in,” said Rovers’ boss Dean Saunders. “They have been going in this season and we’d scored six in our previous three games.”
Striker Chris Brown had scored in every game this season but rarely looked liked adding to his tally.
“Chris was struggling with a hip injury to make the game,” said Saunders. “But he is such an important player for us with the size of our squad that he is hard to replace.
“He’d scored three goals in three games and I wanted him on the pitch but he struggled to get through the game really. He kept getting bangs on his hip so I had to bring him off then.”
Fellow striker Billy Paynter was more involved in the game and could have had a hat-trick on another day.
“He probably had four good chances in the first half, but if he keeps getting into the right places he’ll be alright and he’ll score goals for us,” said Saunders.
If Saunders felt, for various reasons, that his strikers didn’t fire on all cylinders, he had no complaints about his defence.
“I thought the worst thing to happen to us (before they scored) was that we’d draw 0-0,” he said.
“I thought that we defended great, “ he enthused. “Rob Jones and Jamie McCombe were both outstanding - they headed everything. But the whole back four and the goalkeeper played well.
“Syers, who had a chance just before they scored, and Woods worked hard in midfield. We probably lacked a bit of control of the ball at times, but they worked hard and got to the ball first and we were in the game all way through it.
“We’ve got 40-odd games left and as I’ve said before, we aren’t going to win them all and we’ve just got to roll our sleeves up and go again.”
Whether James Coppinger, who turned down a loan move to Barnsley in midweek, will be there to help the Rovers’ cause remains to be seen.
“I would imagine before the transfer deadline (on Friday) that someone will make an offer for him. If not, he stays with us.”