The Dean machine
Saunders quite happy for Rovers to 'win ugly'
Last Updated: October 3, 2011 1:26pm
Saunders: Not getting carried away
Dean Saunders promised a "whatever it takes" approach when arriving at Doncaster Rovers and Peterborough United felt the full force of that methodology on Saturday.
The Posh had 59% of possession, played the more aesthetically pleasing football and created enough gilt-edged chances to win about three games.
But while a profligate Posh left with the plaudits, plucky Rovers took the points after coming from behind to land a 2-1 win that moved the club out of the bottom three.
The Peterborough faithful and press left scratching their heads at how Rovers had won. Saunders' analysis was straightforward: "We did not deserve to win," he said. "But I'll take the three points."
Saunders' post-match interview was up front, upbeat and rightly unapologetic. He wants his Doncaster side to play football but quickly realised on Saturday that trying to outplay a fluent Peterborough side on a very hot afternoon would be a futile exercise.
So rather than stretch the game and try to out-pass a team who were extremely comfortable in possession, Saunders opted to sacrifice the ball for territory and looked to hit Peterborough on the counter-attack.
It would be too easy to say the plan worked to perfection because Peterborough still created a plethora of opportunities that Saunders, even now at the age of 47, would have stuck away with his eyes closed.
Emile Sinclair and George Boyd missed absolute sitters before the break and Posh struck both posts in the second half when it was easier to score. When Peterborough did hit the target, Neil Sullivan made two fine saves to deny Grant McCann and Sinclair and the hosts also had a goal wiped off for offside.
It was not completely one-way traffic though as Jon Parkin and Simon Gillett hit the bar and, once Brian Stock had levelled the score with a marvellous goal, the team looked more assured.
Kyle Bennett's introduction added pace and purpose to Donny's perspiration and the youngster deserved his clinical breakaway goal. As the game went on, Posh ran out of ideas and their attempts to get back into the game got more desperate.
Peterborough tried to get George Friend sent off and Boyd tried to make something of a James Hayter challenge in the box when the Rovers man clearly did not foul the playmaker.
Referee Darren Drysdale stood up to the considerable pressure from the Posh technical area - players and crowd - and although five-and-a-half minutes of injury time was generous, Rovers were not to be denied.
It meant Saunders landed home and away wins at the first time of asking, and seven points from nine is a great effort. The manager is rightly not getting carried away; Saunders knows that we must keep the ball better, particularly in the first half of games.
But striving for improvement can be done with less pressure because we have some points on the board. With players coming back from injury, new signings imminent and performances bound to get better as Saunders settles, the outlook for the season suddenly looks far brighter.