Doncaster Rovers turned in one of their more complete performances of the season in dismantling Charlton Athletic on Tuesday night, but it was still not enough to satisfy Paul Dickov.
The exacting Rovers manager sent his players out for the second half with a flea in their ear after accusing them of trading tempo for showboating after taking a 2-0 lead against a side reduced to 10 men.
Pleased overall with the 3-0 win that moved them four points clear of the Championship’s relegation zone, he was nonetheless unhappy that they ignored the principles that helped them establish that lead.
Dickov said: “I had a go at them at half-time, believe it or not, because I thought the last 10 minutes we got really sloppy and we dropped our standards a little bit.
“The reason we had got in front was because of the intensity and the tempo we played at.
“We tried to start showboating a little bit and flicking balls around the corner. We’re at our best when we retain the ball and play one- and two-touch and play at the right tempo. But we just seemed to slow everything down.
“I know what it’s like as a player, it’s difficult when you play against 10, but that doesn’t mean you let your standards drop, and we did that.
“Second half we were better at times, but there were still occasions when our ball retention wasn’t what it should have been.
“That’s something we’ll talk about, but it was another three points and it was a big three points as we move on to Saturday.”
Rovers host Yorkshire rivals Middlesbrough on Saturday, looking to make amends for the 4-0 defeat they suffered at the Riverside Stadium back in October.
Doncaster seem sure to provide far more obdurate opposition this time around than they did last time, while Boro are also revitalised under new manager Aitor Karanka.
Dickov, who does not expect to make any more signings before tomorrow’s transfer deadline, will be hoping the workrate his players showed on Tuesday will continue on Saturday.
“I thought defensively we looked solid,” he said. “We can talk about the passing moves we put together and other such things, but for me the desire to press for 90 minutes and the workrate was what won us the game.
“I thought our ball retention was good for the majority of the game and overall I can’t be too disappointed – that’s seven points out of nine and six points from our last two home games.
“So there are a lot of positives to take.
“What we did do with that result is drag another couple of teams into it (the relegation scrap).”