Shrewsbury Town v Doncaster Rovers - Bravery required on the ball by Andy Butler’s side

Matt Smith was loaned to Doncaster Rovers to learn more about football. Since February, he has been learning the hard way.

Rovers are at Shrewsbury Town today on the back of just two wins in 16 matches.

Their fragility was obvious at home to Burton Albion on Tuesday. The first half was said to be one of their best this season, but they went behind in the 59th minute and lost 3-0.

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“I’ve learnt every day that I’ve come in,” says the on-loan Manchester City midfielder. “The past couple of games I’ve learnt a lot more but I wouldn’t have wanted to learn about what’s happened over the last couple of months.”

Seeking recovery: Matt Smith, right, with Doncaster's Jon Taylor.

Smith knows he and his team-mates need to stay positive and brave, and whilst the latter has been drummed into him throughout his footballing life, the former is easier said than done.

“You struggle to take a lot of positives about the run of form we’re on apart from the first half on Tuesday,” admits the 21-year-old Wales international.
“You want to try and stay as positive as you can because if you don’t do that, you can’t improve.

“That first half it was really the first time we’ve shown a positive reaction. That’s maybe how we should have started two or three weeks ago.

“I know we keep saying week in, week out we need a positive reaction but if we don’t get one we’re never going to get out of this situation.

Doncaster Rovers interim manager Andy Butler gestures on the touchline (Picture: PA)

“Once Burton scored we went away from what we were doing. We just looked like we lost a little bit of work-rate and fight, which is the most disappointing thing.

“We put a lot of effort into being where we were before and now it feels like it’s for nothing.”

Doncaster’s is a young squad, and perhaps that inexperience is starting to tell.

“For a lot of the lads it’s the first time we’ve been through anything like this,” says Smith. “A lot of them have spoken to the more experienced lads and asked how they give what they can to get out of the situation.

“Now more than ever we need bravery on the ball. It’s been instilled in me since I was young. If you make a mistake and you still want the ball afterwards it shows your attitude is good.”

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