Doncaster Rovers: Darren Ferguson defends 3-5-2 system

Rovers celebrate James Coppinger's equaliser. Photo: Lesley Pickersgill
Rovers celebrate James Coppinger's equaliser. Photo: Lesley Pickersgill
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Darren Ferguson defended his 3-5-2 system after Doncaster Rovers’ disappointing 1-1 draw with Crawley Town.

Rovers were abject in the first half and fell behind to James Collins’ tap-in.

James Coppinger restored parity with a lovely goal in the 49th minute to earn Doncaster their first point of the season.

Matty Blair and Riccardo Calder were again employed as wing backs, although Blair ended the game at right back and Calder was removed midway through the second period as Rovers switched to a 4-4-2 diamond in search of a winner.

There was no hiding the fact that Doncaster were awful before the break, as passes went astray and the visitors showed much more poise and purpose.

Ferguson made no excuses for the first half performance but said afterwards “it’s not about systems”.

“The overall feeling I had was that there were too many simple mistakes and the basics were wrong,” said Rovers’ boss.

“We didn’t get our wing backs one versus one enough in the first half. We spoke about that at half time.

“And it’s not about systems. People go away saying ‘it’s about this system’.

“It’s not about systems. It [3-5-2] is a good system, and I believe in it strongly.

“It’s about how you use a system to exploit a weakness in a team and we didn’t do that in the first half.

“Credit to Crawley, they did to ours,” he added.

“They got control of possession and because of that we started to get frustrated.

“But credit to my players, they responded to it.”

Ferguson said his players would be giving him a “raw deal” if they were to play like they did in the first half again.

“The energy and tempo was nowhere near the level that I expected and wanted in the first half,” he said.

“The second half was by far better, we got the right start and got the goal.

“It was good obviously we didn’t get another defeat, that was important, but we came into the game thinking we could win it, but we didn’t.

“I’ll accept mistakes made by my players but I won’t accept the lack of energy and tempo in the first half,” he added.

“That was really noticeable by myself.

“The players know themselves that they are giving me a raw deal if they play like they did in the first half.

“We need to have a performance more like we got in the second half for a full game.

“That’s something we’ll hopefully get on Tuesday [against Cambridge] because that will be a tough game against a very good team.”

On loan Niall Mason added to Rovers’ defensive injury problems by going off with a knee injury.

He will now have a scan and will almost certainly miss tomorrow night’s game.