Rovers manager Saunders refuses to throw in towel

El Hadji Djouf of Doncaster Rovers  battles with Lee Peltier of Leicester City
El Hadji Djouf of Doncaster Rovers battles with Lee Peltier of Leicester City
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IT looks like being a mission impossible for Doncaster Rovers in their bid to retain Championship status.

Dean Saunders’s bottom-placed side moved a step closer to a return to League One after defeat at Leicester – their fifth loss in six league games.

It left them eight points from safety with just five games remaining, starting with today’s visit of Burnley.

Victory against the Clarets is vital as is a win against next-to-bottom Portsmouth on Saturday if they are not to drop out of the second tier in which they have finished 14th, 12th and 21st since being promoted in 2008.

Doncaster manager Saunders criticised his players for poor finishing but despite the heavy defeat insists Rovers can still escape relegation.

He said: “I’m obviously disappointed to lose the game 4-0 but I don’t think the scoreline was a fair reflection of the game.

“It seems I’m doing the same press conference after every game. We missed and missed chances and you have to take chances when they come.

“We had six chances to score in the first half and we missed them all.

“Our build-up play was good and I felt we were the better team in the first half. The second goal going through Carl’s legs killed us off and then Ben Marshall scored a great goal.

“But every week we miss chances – we had 14 chances at Crystal Palace and ended up 1-1.

“We can still get out of trouble. Everyone around us keeps doing us favours by dropping points. I’m not going to give up.”

Leicester assistant manager Craig Shakespeare claimed his side’s play-off hopes are still alive.

Former Manchester United youth academy product Danny Drinkwater gave Leicester a first-half lead with his first goal for the club.

Full-back Lee Peltier scored the Foxes’ second shortly after the re-start before late goals by Ben Marshall and Paul Gallagher completed the rout.

Leicester may be five points adrift but Shakespeare insists the deficit can be overhauled although he admits they are running out of time.

He said: “It was a lacklustre start, but you have to be pleased to come away with four goals and a win. It does keep our play-off hopes alive, but we are running out of games.

“We have to take each game as it comes and try and take three points against Ipswich and hope other teams around us drop points.

“I still think there will be one play-off place to be had going into the last game, and whether it will go to goal difference I don’t know.

“We have to go to Ipswich, play on the front foot and take the game to them and try and come away with a result.”

In Saturday’s encounter, David Nugent saw his early 30-yard drive palmed over by Carl Ikeme, who then pulled off a spectacular save to deny Jermaine Beckford.

Rovers responded through James Coppinger and Giles Barnes, but neither managed to work Kasper Schmeichel in the home goal.

Nugent threatened again before Doncaster’s plans were upset by an injury to Frederic Piquionne after 20 minutes. It looked like the on-loan striker suffered a calf problem which will make him doubtful for today’s game and he was replaced by Chris Brown.

Leicester took a 32nd-minute lead when Nugent headed down a long ball from Wes Morgan for Drinkwater to drive home in off a post from 16 yards.

Brown missed the target with a header before Nugent worked Ikeme at the other end just before half-time.

Soon after the restart, disaster struck for Doncaster.

Peltier beat his man down the right-hand side before sending a harmless-looking cross into the six-yard box. The ball squirmed through Ikeme’s hands and into the net.

Herita Ilunga was the next to send a header over as Doncaster tried to get a goal back, but any hopes of a comeback were extinguished with 12 minutes remaining when Marshall maintained his recent good form with another goal of quality.

The winger cut inside from the left and arrowed a right-footed shot into the top corner, giving Ikeme no chance.

Nugent hit the crossbar with an effort from the edge of the area after 83 minutes before Gallagher completed the rout with two minutes left.

Gallagher, a 61st-minute replacement for Lloyd Dyer, rounded off a nice passing move involving Marshall and Andy King by finding the bottom left-hand corner from 18 yards out.

Leicester City: Schmeichel, Peltier, Konchesky, Bamba, Dyer (Gallagher 61), Drinkwater, Wellens (King 61), Beckford (Schlupp 81), Marshall, Morgan, Nugent. Unused substitutes: Howard, St Ledger.

Doncaster Rovers: Ikeme, Diouf (Stock 46), Lockwood, Oster, Barnes (Robert 74), Gillett, Piquionne (Brown 20), Coppinger, Ilunga, Chimbonda, Beye. Unused substitutes:Friend, Bennett.

Referee: R East (Wiltshire).

Man of the match: David Nugent.