THE most frustrating of Tuesday evenings had at least one redeeming feature for Doncaster Rovers manager Paul Dickov.
It came in the performance of Mexborough teenager Billy Whitehouse on his full debut for the club in midfield in their Johnstone’s Paint Trophy northern section quarter-final home loss to Notts County, which at least salvaged something from a disheartening night.
The main conjecture surrounded the decision of referee David Webb to rule out an opening ‘goal’ from Kyle Bennett midway through the second-half, seemingly for a borderline offside, which left Dickov totally dumbstruck.
Liam Noble’s 74th-minute strike in the 1-0 win – not too long after Bennett’s ‘disallowed effort – added to the Rovers manager’s ire. After Dickov made his thoughts plainly clear about the controversial decision, he at least took heart from the showing of Whitehouse, one of five changes to the side who beat Oldham on Saturday.
He said: “I thought Billy did really well and he is a player I have liked since I first came in last year and he was in the youth team.
“He plays with a lot of energy, works his socks off and is a fantastic kid off the pitch too.
“I am sure with the ability he has got as well that the kid has got a really good chance.
“It is always a good sign for me when senior professionals take a younger kid under their belt because they do not tend to if they think they are bad players.”
After naming virtually the same line-up during Rovers’ five-match unbeaten away sequence ahead of Tuesday’s home game, Dickov made five changes for the encounter, but defended that policy after the Magpies’ reverse.
Mindful of a hectic schedule and with full-backs Reece Wabara and Enda Stevens ‘running on empty’ in his words and Richie Wellens and James Coppinger carrying injuries, Dickov insists his hand was forced.
What he says he could not mitigate for was the decision to rule out Bennett’s goal.
On the make-up of his side, Dickov said: “We just had to make sure with all the games coming up over Christmas and Saturday at home as well that everybody was right. Ideally, I would have picked the same team, but sometimes it is forced upon you.”
On the goal that never was, he added: “I am angry really as it is a game we should have won.
“We had a goal chalked, for (why) we don’t know. We think that if the goal was given, as it should have been done, we go on and win the game.”