MANAGER Darren Ferguson is determined history will not repeat itself at Doncaster Rovers.
Two years ago Rovers lost to Stoke City in the FA Cup in January before going 16 League One games without a win.
By the time they beat Wigan 3-1 in mid-April Doncaster were deep in relegation trouble – six points from safety with just four games remaining – and they eventually dropped into League Two.
Fast forward two years and Ferguson’s side – following promotion last term – are facing a nervous end to the campaign.
Doncaster suffered a 4-2 defeat at Walsall on Tuesday night, stretching their winless run in the league to eight games, and sit in 16th spot, five points above the drop zone.
Defeat tomorrow to fellow strugglers Fleetwood Town – reeling themselves after six successive defeats – would certainly have the alarm bells ringing at the Keepmoat Stadium.
Unlike 2016, the current Rovers team are picking up points – six of their last eight games have been drawn, including hard-earned points at top-10 quartet Peterborough, Scunthorpe United, Shrewsbury and Portsmouth.
“That was two years ago and it was slightly different then because we were losing a lot of games,” said Ferguson.
“We actually are managing to pick up points.
“But I can sit here and say it’s different’; we have got to prove that.
“I am a very positive person and 5.15 on Saturday the world can be a different place if we can get that win.
“It would calm everyone down and I think that’s what’s needed at the moment.
“We have had a tough week, a three-game week, and it hasn’t gone as planned, but it would be very nice to finish off with a win.
“We can then move on very quickly to a big derby against Rotherham.”
If Rovers are to avoid an end-of-season relegation battle there can be few repeats of Tuesday’s 4-2 defeat at Walsall.
Sloppy defending allowed the Saddlers to cruise into a 3-0 half-time lead with late goals from Tommy Rowe and Niall Mason failing to gloss over the poor display.
“We need to try and make sure that was a one-off on Tuesday night,” said Ferguson, who will recall French defender Mathieu Baudry tomorrow after hamstring trouble.
“The root cause (of defeat) was the goals we lost were so poor and soft. I didn’t think there was anything in the game.
“In fact, I thought we were getting a little bit of control of the game when they scored their first goal. But within 25 minutes the game is effectively over when you are 3-0 down with a mountain to climb.”
However, battling draws at London Road, New Meadow, Fratton Park and Glanford Park have certainly fuelled Ferguson’s belief in the class of 2018.
“I think we have shown we are capable of digging out results,” Ferguson said. “That’s always a good sign.
“Look at the last eight games; we haven’t had a win, we have drawn six, but what we have managed to do is dig out results.
“Shrewsbury, Scunthorpe, Portsmouth, Peterborough – all away – we have managed to dig out results.
“But on Tuesday something was missing. That’s gone now and we can’t keep talking about it.
“We need to focus on what is in front of us and that’s Saturday.
“They (Fleetwood) are having a bad run. People say we are on a bad run – given the fact we haven’t won in eight, absolutely – but they have lost their last six.
“So it’s a big game. The players, after speaking to them the other day on what I expect from them, are fully aware of that.
“The response has to be on the match day. The players understand what I expect from them.
“We went away from that on Tuesday, for whatever reason, and we have to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“No one is saying we are going to go and win the last 13 games, but our fans expect a certain level of energy and spirit.”