Doncaster Rovers: Rest the key to derby triumph - Dickov

Rovers keeper Sam Johnstone suffers cramp in the Owls derby
Rovers keeper Sam Johnstone suffers cramp in the Owls derby
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He may preach a philosophy of hard work but even Paul Dickov is capable of giving his men some time off.

And the Rovers boss believes a couple of days of rest gave his side the edge in the derby clash with Sheffield Wednesday.

Mindful of the Owls’ energy-sapping performance in their win over Queens Park Rangers, Dickov instructed his players to rest up to prepare them for Saturday’s game.

And he was left beaming with pride as a hardworking performance delivered a 1-0 against a largely sluggish Wednesday.

“On purpose this week, we took the workload off the players,” Dickov said. “They had a couple of days off which I was loathe to do.

“With today in mind, the physical side of things we took the work right off them.

“We knew that Wednesday were playing Saturday-Tuesday three weeks on the trot whereas we had the chance to get some good rest into the players with a view to them working their socks off for 95 minutes.

“I don’t think we wanted it more, I just think maybe the game Wednesday had in mid-week caught up with them and us taking the work off the lads. I think that showed in the end.”

The pay-off of Dickov’s calculated gamble was part of an excellent day for him and his side as they secured their first league double of the season.

And he was pleased the team did not necessarily have to play at their best to get the win.

He said: “That’s the character you want. I thought togetherness, character and work ethic ran right through the team.

“It wasn’t the best we’ve played by any means but sometimes you’ve really got to roll your sleeves up, dig in and get a result. The boys were fantastic.

“We weathered the storm early on and after that I think we fully deserved the three points. In the second half, Chris Kirkland has had to pull off two fantastic saves.

“It’s nice to get the three points without playing as well as you can do.”

Dickov confirmed keeper Sam Johnstone was struggling with cramp which forced him to go down for five second half minutes.

And, through a wry grin, the Rovers boss was not best pleased: “It’ll be the last time he’s given a couple of days off because he took cramp,” he said.

“Never in 25 years in football have I known a goalkeeper take cramp. So he’ll be getting absolutely battered this week.”