Dean Saunders has branded Doncaster’s fixture schedule “ridiculous” after their ninth game of the month ended in a 3-1 home defeat to Birmingham.
Rovers, who took the lead through Frederic Piquionne, were eventually undone by goals from David Murphy, Chris Burke and Marlon King, meaning they have just one win in 15 games and are staring relegation from the npower Championship in the face.
They have not been helped by a cruel fixture list this week that has seen a trip to Southampton last weekend, a midweek journey to Crystal Palace and then tonight’s fixture being brought forward due to a race meeting at Doncaster Racecourse tomorrow.
“I thought we played really well again,” Saunders said. “The first 20 minutes we kept the ball and scored a great goal. But they are a really good team.
“The schedule we have had this week has been ridiculous.
“We went to Southampton last week and that was five-and-a-half hours back, then to Crystal Palace in midweek.
“That was four-and-a-half hours back and we got back at 3.30 on Wednesday morning.
“We got them in Thursday but they couldn’t do much and tonight they have had to go out against a Premier League team in effect and play like it was a cup final.
“Once they got the second goal we didn’t have anything to give.”
Despite their plight, they sit four points adrift of safety with six games to play, Saunders believes there is enough in his squad to stay up.
“We have got to win four out of six and the players have got to lift themselves.
“If we weren’t making any chances I’d be feeling worse than I’m feeling now but we are making chances and you just hope one of the players score four goals in four games.”
It could have been a much heftier victory for Birmingham had King and Nikola Zigic not rattled the woodwork, but despite going behind to Piquionne’s header in the fourth minute, Blues always looked the likelier to emerge victorious.
And boss Chris Hughton puts that down to their quick response to falling behind.
“There were pivotal moments in the game and our response to them scoring was excellent,” he said.
“We tried to get hold of the game and responding quickly was important.
“Then when the game opened up we looked like scoring and we did.
“With them playing in midweek we’d hoped that as the game went on we’d get stronger and we did.
“In the end we could have even had more goals.
“We said that the only good thing about playing on a Friday is that a win would keep us in the top six.
“It is a good evening for us got we got a win we thoroughly deserved.”
Hughton reserved special praise for winger Burke, who put Blues 2-1 up with a divine curling effort from 25 yards.
“He is not only providing us with assists but scoring goals,” he added.
“He has scored a few like that, he is the type of player you know can get stronger.
“His assists and goals have been a big asset.”