Are Doncaster Rovers losing their grip on a League One play-off place?

DONCASTER ROVERS have won just two of their last 12 games in League One but manager Andy Butler believes his side are still in a “great position” to finish in the play-off places.

A 1-0 defeat at MK Dons on Saturday afternoon saw them slip out of the top six on goal difference.

The result also means Rovers are without a win in five while they last won away from home on January 30 following a 1-0 victory at Lincoln City.

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Doncaster have played fewer games than five of the six sides above them but Butler insists the focus remains on turning around their form.

There are plenty of teams below Butler’s side who feel they can make a push for the play-offs, with just five points separating the sides between fifth and 13th.

Rovers’ destiny remains in their own hands but they need to start finding the back of the net again if they are to remain in pole position for a top-six spot.

“We are in a great place and a good position,” said Butler.

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“Obviously, results haven’t gone for us of late but other teams will have sticky patches and others will have good runs.

Staying positive: Doncaster Rovers interim manager Andy Butler.Staying positive: Doncaster Rovers interim manager Andy Butler.
Staying positive: Doncaster Rovers interim manager Andy Butler.

“It is up to us to put a run together and really focus on what we can do well as an attacking threat. The games are coming thick and fast but I can only focus on my side and trying to improve them and getting positive results.”

Daniel Harvie’s deflected strike 14 minutes from time was enough for MK Dons to secure all three points.

Two goals in a draw at Gillingham nine days ago is the only time Butler’s side have found the net in their last five outings.

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Doncaster had just one shot on target in Milton Keynes and had goalkeeper Louis Jones to thank for keeping them in the game, as he made a string of fine saves in the first half.

“I think it is fine lines. We have had chances,” reflected Butler.

“It is just the final pass we lacked today, it is fine margins. They scored from a shot with a deflection so it is fine lines.

He continued: “They are a particularly good side at home and I thought we nullified them to an extent.

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“They had a couple of shots from our mistakes but I thought when we got the press right, we caused them problems.

“We had a couple of breakaway chances but we never capitalised on them.

“Louis did well again, he is improving all the time.

“A deflection off the defender’s head took it away from him for their goal, so he was unfortunate with that.

“He made some great saves to keep us in the game.”

Butler felt Doncaster lacked the final incisive pass, with big opportunities few and far between.

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He added: “We seemed to grow into the game and actually started to put pressure on the ball higher up the pitch.

“We got in some good positions but never got that final pass away or shot at their goal.”

Butler is confident in his players’ ability to score goals but believes there is a lack of confidence in his forward line at present.

“We will sit down with them on Monday and go through the game with them,” he added.

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“A lot of things we work on is confidence and freedom in the final third, how to express themselves and hurt the opposition.

“We have got players who are more than capable of scoring goals.

“It is just the last few games, we have looked a little bit flat.”

“It is something we will address this week in training, giving them patterns of play to work to.

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“We tell the players to express themselves in the final third, now we have to give them a plan and hope they execute it better than they have done today.

“I can’t fault the players for their work-rate, it is just the final pass and the decision making wasn’t there.”

Joe Wright was withdrawn in the 81st minute and Butler explained: “He has got some tight hamstrings but I am not sure on him yet.”

Josh Sims missed the contest as he returned to parent club Southampton for an assessment on his left leg. Butler hopes to find out more on the issue this week.

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MK Dons: Fisher; O’Hara, Darling, Jules; Harvie, O’Riley, Surman (Laird 67), McEachran, Sorinola (Jerome 67); Fraser (Thompson 28); Grigg (Brown 83). Unused substitutes: Nicholls, Lewington, Mason.

Doncaster Rovers: Jones; Halliday, Wright (John 81), Anderson, Horton (Gomes 80); Bostock (Robertson 80), James; Lokilo, Richards, Coppinger (Okenabirhie 64); Bogle. Unused substitutes: Balcombe, Amos, Greaves.

Referee: J Smith (Lincolnshire).

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