DONCASTER Rovers boss Dean Saunders was left frustrated after his side’s impressive five-game unbeaten run came to a grinding halt at home Derby County.
Saunders described Rovers’ home showing as “flat” despite skipper El-Hadji Diouf’s second half-strike having given the relegation-battlers hope of snatching a draw against the Rams at the Keepmoat Stadium.
A 13th minute lob from Theo Robinson and a bullet strike from former Rovers favourite Gareth Roberts ten minutes after the break condemned Saunder’s team to defeat as they dropped one place in the table and one more point adrift of fellow strugglers Bristol City.
“We’ve just got results against two of the top teams [West Ham and Reading], but maybe we’ve turned up thinking we were going to win this game,” admitted Saunders.
“Maybe we thought we’d done the hard bit, but Derby have got 52 points, they’ve gone away from home and won games, and they have a successful formula.
“We’ve tried to warn them [the players] about what might happen.
“We’ve tried to go over mentally what might happen as well as physically.
“We’ve prepared everybody the best we could, but unfortunately it’s not happened for us. We looked flat.”
Rovers had chances to score more, but were far from their best and Saunders believes he faced a dilemma whether to shuffle his pack with his side having given so much over the last few weeks to orchestrate their five-match unbeaten run.
“It’s always a temptation when you’re playing Tuesday and Saturday, Tuesday and Saturday again, to put some fresh legs in the team,” admitted Saunders.
“It’s always a dilemma, but when you’ve gone five games without losing you’re also reluctant to change what you’ve been doing.
“It’s easy after the game to think differently, but you have to stick by your decisions.
“I think we’ve competed with everyone this season, I honestly think that’s the first game this season where we’ve been below-par.
“You’ve got to give credit to Derby because they kept banging the ball in behind us and stopped us playing.”