DEAN SAUNDERS has urged his seething Doncaster Rovers side to take out their derby frustration upon visiting Colchester United today.
The Rovers manager and players were in angry mood following their controversial New Year’s Day draw with Sheffield United, with Saunders admitting to being tormented by the decisions to award the Blades a late penalty and dismiss Billy Paynter in the 2-2 draw.
Saunders had pledged immediately after the match to appeal against the decision by referee David Coote to send off Paynter following a tussle with Tony McMahon, but due to a lack of sufficient video evidence the club have now decided against that.
Paynter’s absence has exacerbated a potential striker crisis ahead of the U’s game, with Chris Brown and veteran Robbie Blake doubtful.
But despite the blow and disappointment of Tuesday, Saunders wants his side to draw a line under proceedings and finish off the week in the best possible fashion.
He said: “Sometimes things like this happen during the season and they make you stronger as a unit.
“Hopefully it has had that effect on the players for Saturday.
“Colchester have lost seven on the trot, and it is a club record if they lose eight, so they will be coming here to try and put that right. We have got to approach the game exactly like we did against Sheffield United.
“When you sit back and look at the game (against Blades), it is probably the best we have played at home this season.”
Utility defender Andy Griffin – involved in the controversial awarding of a late penalty for the Blades after he challenged substitute Joe Ironside – has signed a deal with Rovers for the rest of the season.
Saunders yesterday signed Welsh midfielder Lee Fowler from Fleetwood Town for an undisclosed fee until the end of the season. The much-travelled 29-year-old, who cites Huddersfield and Scarborough in a long list of former clubs, played under Saunders at Wrexham.
Rovers are reportedly tracking Forest Green forward James Norwood, as are League One rivals Preston and Swindon.