DONCASTER Rovers manager Dean Saunders hopes that his players will provide a reaction to the defeat on Saturday when they take on Millwall at the Keepmoat Stadium tonight.
After five without defeat - the best such run for two years - the prospect of a points haul from two more home games after the creditable draw against Reading, had raised the hopes of Rovers followers in the relegation scrap.
So, the defeat to Derby proved deflationary and leaves Rovers knowing they really need to secure three points against Millwall.
To do so would take them within three points of the London club with a game in hand (which is at Palace next Tuesday). However, lose it and the current six point gap goes up to a very daunting nine.
“I believe we can bounce back and, normally, you would get a reaction to a defeat and I believe that’s what will happen here,” said Saunders.
He admitted that he went into last weekend’s game wondering if things might catch up with the team: “The dilemma was that after five without defeat and virtually a settled team, did I need to change, did they look all right?,” he said.
“Well, they looked all right against Reading and there were no signs of anything untoward in training. So, leave it alone or do I freshen it up before it happens? That was a thought process.
“Of course, it is easy to look at it afterwards because then I would have known what to do. It’s easy to know afterwards.
“We didn’t play well but I think you have to give credit to Derby and the way they played. It’s the first game where someone has come to try and stop us.
“Normally, teams come and try to beat little old Donny; they come with a plan to beat us but not to stop us.
“The way we played was down to Derby. Yes, there was a bit of energy missing.
“But you have to take into account the mental fatigue. You fight Mike Tyson on a Saturday and then have to fight him again on the Tuesday and then you’re told you are fighting him again on the following Saturday, well it’s a massive mental battle and a tiring one.
“I have gathered them together and said that we have got to keep putting the effort in. If we do then I am sure we’ll bounce back.”
Rovers look like doing so without Shelton Martis. He came off in the second half on Saturday and Saunders said he had problems with his hamstring and calf.
“Whether it is something related to his back or his foot, I’m not sure but we’re going to have him checked out why he’s getting niggles,” said Saunders.
Sam Hird is set to play and Saunders is pondering if he needs to change elsewhere.