ON THE day that X-Factor returned to the nation’s television screens, Doncaster Rovers didn’t have a show-stopper as they slumped to a 3-0 defeat against high-flying Derby County at Pride Park.
It was Rovers fourth league defeat in as many starts and left them propping up the Championship table.
Having argued, with some justification, that Rovers had been unlucky to finish empty-handed in their previous three league games, assistant manager Richard O’Kelly offered no excuses.
“We were lacklustre,” he admitted. “What we always try and do is give a performance and you can probably count on the fingers of one hand the games (irrespective of the result) when we haven’t done (while we’ve been here) and today was one of those games.”
O’Kelly has sung the praises of the club’s midfield in previous games, singling out the likes of John Oster, Simon Gillett and James Coppinger, in particular. But he was far from impressed with their efforts against the Rams.
“I didn’t think that any of the midfield played well,” he said. “We moved the ball too slowly and when people were looking to play the ball forward there weren’t good options - there wasn’t our normal movement.
“When we lost the ball we weren’t very good at getting it back. It was the first time this season when we didn’t do what we should have done (throughout the 90 minutes).
“We went behind early on but it was the second goal which was particularly disappointing from our point of view because of the way that we were playing and because of the timing, We’d spoken in the dressing room at half-time about what we needed to do so to concede a second goal after just 16 seconds was disappointing.”
Rovers gave both new young loan signings a start.
O’Kelly said: “Reece Brown probably found it was a level up to what he had been playing with England in the Under-20 World Cup.
“He did some good things and made some intelligent decisions and you could see that he knows what he is doing. But I would imagine that he would say that the game was very tough and competitive for him to make his (starting) debut in the Championship given the circumstances.
“But he’s a young player and I’m absolutely convinced, because we’ve seen him play quite a few times, that he’ll be one for the future. Milan (Lalkovic) looked a real threat - particularly in the first half.
“He looked lively and very intelligent how he worked and how he closed the ball down, but he didn’t have a good service.”