DONCASTER Rovers remain bottom of the Championship table going into the international break, but there was relief in the camp after Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Bristol City that they had avoided equalling their worst ever start to a league campaign.
Having lost their first four league games Rovers were in danger of not only emulating the five successive defeats at the start of their ill-fated 1997-98 Division Three campaign, but of surpassing it with testing away games at Cardiff and Reading.
But a second half header by striker James Hayter cancelled out a 45th minute goal by City’s Albert Adomah to earn his side a point.
“It was important that we got something from the game,” said Rovers’ No 2 Richard O’Kelly.
Rovers again started the game with defenders Tommy Spurr and Mustapha Dumbuya operating as centre-backs.
“We thought the system worked quite well overall against Leeds in the Carling Cup defeat,” said O’Kelly.
“It helps give you a lot of possession of the ball and because you’ve got three defenders at the back you can push one of them into the centre of the park to squeeze one of their wide men.
“But we could never afford to be gung-ho because of their ability to break out of defence at pace and we had to err on the side of caution and not try to pass little dodgy balls.”
O’Kelly admitted that he and manager Sean O’Driscoll had been disappointed to concede a goal on the stroke of half-time which served to change the interval team-talk.
“The message to the players at half-time was to believe in what they were doing because against Leeds when things went against us we stopped believing in what we were doing for a time,” said O’Kelly.
“In the second half we were resilient and kept a belief in what we were doing no matter what was happening off the pitch when the crowd were really quiet.
“We had the disappointment of not scoring from the penalty and things like that can affect you. But one of the plus points was the fact that we didn’t get affected by it.
“We haven’t had much luck this season and that might have entered the mind of some of the players but it went straight out the other side.
“James Hayter put us level and we finished strongly and created some good chances.”
One of Rovers’ late chances fell to Kyle Bennett, who brought out the best of former England keeper David James. O’Kelly was pleased with the 20-year-old Bennett’s contribution.
“He will have learnt a lot about his role,” he said. “It wasn’t the game that he wanted to play but he kept at it and was effective. “He had his moments when he caught the eye in attack, one was when he won us the penalty, He also made two early runs.”