Big match verdict: Rovers’ intensity and energy must return against Seagulls

Rovers will be boosted by the return of Richie Wellens against Brighton.
Rovers will be boosted by the return of Richie Wellens against Brighton.
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There’s a sense of ‘back to the drawing board’ for Doncaster ahead of this weekend’s visit of Brighton, writes Paul Goodwin.

How Paul Dickov, who prides himself on his positivity, responds to Rovers’ first back-to-back league defeats of the season will be fascinating.

Rovers’ bold approach on home turf this term has been very noble. But they need to stop the rot, and quickly.

They must regain a semblance of form before the huge games that lie around the corner against Barnsley, Yeovil and Charlton. A boring 0-0 shut-out would be a start.

So does he batten down the hatches in an attempt to stop shipping goals and stifle a Brighton side that have failed to score in their last four Championship away games?

Or does he go for the kill again and re-instate either of his aggressive 4-3-3 or 4-2-4 formations?

The answer is most likely to be a compromise.

Dickov’s in-built positive mindset means he will send his team out on a mission to get on the front foot from the word go and get the first goal.

It’s worth noting that Rovers have failed to win a single point this season when they have conceded the first goal in a game.

But, given Friday’s abysmal defensive display, Rovers’ boss will also demand that his players are as cautious at the back as they are cavalier and creative in the final third.

He’ll demand an all-round improvement and that means going back to basics: working harder to close down space, working harder to stop crosses, working harder to keep the ball and working harder when it comes to defending set pieces.

In short, Dickov will demand more effort than he saw against Middlesbrough.

And only if Rovers find that missing intensity and energy will they arrest their somewhat alarming slide.