Saunders wants to cut out the draws

'We should be cruising' Rovers manager Dean Saunders
'We should be cruising' Rovers manager Dean Saunders

BOSS Dean Saunders fears too many draws could come back to haunt Doncaster Rovers in their battle to escape relegation.

With 11 matches remaining, Rovers sit 22nd in the Championship, three points away from safety following their draw with automatic promotion contenders Reading in midweek.

But Saunders says his team ought to have had more points on the board and has expressed concern at their inability to turn draws into victories. In their last three home outings, Rovers have been held 1-1 by Peterborough United, where they conceded a last-minute equaliser, Brighton and Hove Albion and the high-flying Royals.

“We need to win six games and we can’t afford too many more slip ups,” he said. “If anything, we’ve drawn too many games that we should have won.

“I thought we deserved to beat Cardiff, West Ham, Watford, Coventry and we drew those games. We threw three points away against Peterborough and three points away against Leeds so we should be cruising but there are a few teams saying that down at the bottom.”

Rovers hope Shelton Martis, who missed the Royals stalemate due to a groin injury he sustained at West Ham, will shrug off the problem in time to face Derby County this weekend. Sam Hird produced an accomplished performance in Martis’s absence at centre-half as Rovers halted Reading’s run of eight straight wins in the second tier of English football.

Hird made a crucial goal-line clearance late on to ensure Saunders battlers stretched their unbeaten league streak to five games: “Shelton felt the same problem he had at Barnsley and he was out for six weeks after that,” he said.

“If you get injured now with the games we’ve got you don’t just miss a week or two games.

“It’s too vital for us so I thought I’d leave him out and hopefully he’ll be alright for Saturday.”

Carl Ikeme, on-loan from Wolves, suffered a knock in the warm-up against Reading, forcing Saunders to put Gary Woods on the substitutes bench as back-up. The reshuffle meant Herita Ilunga had to be taken off the bench.

Following a big and extensive recruitment drive, Saunders now believes Rovers have a plethora of potential match winners in their side.

The ex-Welsh international, targeting six wins from the final 11 matches to beat the drop, said: “You look at our team and sides have got to stop Frederic Piquionne, El Hadji Diouf, James Coppinger and Kyle Bennett. Then there is Giles Barnes making bursts from midfield and Simon Gillett, who got into the box and helped us get a point at West Ham.

“The difference between them [Reading] and us is they have got defenders who go up and start heading set plays in. That’s what we have got to do better but we matched another top team.”