Rovers’ TV route to the top

Doncaster Rovers v Barnsley'Pre Season Friendly'James Harper'Doncaster FC
Doncaster Rovers v Barnsley'Pre Season Friendly'James Harper'Doncaster FC

JAMES Harper says the pressures of playing at home have not suited Rovers’ style this season, writes Liam Hoden.

The forthright midfielder believes the reason Rovers have been better on their travels so far this campaign is because they are better without the ball.

And Harper candidly revealed the pressure to attack teams at the Keepmoat has caused the struggles in front of home support.

“I genuinely think we’re better when we don’t have the ball and can just defend,” Harper said.

“We’re better at counter-attacking and set-pieces. That’s helped us away from home.

“When you play at home, you’re under pressure from your fans to get on the ball and attack.

“I don’t think we’ve been that great attacking all season. When we’ve had that pressure to attack I think we’ve struggled.”

The 32-year-old former Reading man revealed plenty of faith has been put in Rovers’ attack-minded players to take their chances.

And he says that often involves putting his own individual performance behind that of the team.

He said: “We’ve had it in our minds that the front four will nick us goals and that we can rely on set-pieces to get us goals, we’re a big team.

“As long as we keep it tight at the back we think the front four will get goals and we’ll win games.

“Sometimes you have to sacrifice your individual game just to get promoted.You want to do your bit for the team.

“Sometimes that’s putting ideas about making runs and hitting shots to one side and staying in your position, tackling, heading and being horrible. If you win 1-0, that’s great.

“It’s something that’s worked for us in this division because we’ve got into the top two.”

Harper described the 2-1 defeat against Walsall as ‘a shambles’ and ‘a relegation performance.’

He also backed manager Brian Flynn’s assertions it was important not to get beaten against the MK Dons.

Harper sees tonight’s trip to Crawley Town as an opportunity to get back on track but does not anticipate great viewing for the Sky TV audience.

“It’s not going to be pretty - it’s not a great pitch down there, I think it’s even worse than our one so it’ll be fun TV.

“We know what they’re going to be about so let’s just go and get a result.”

Rovers slipped to fourth in League One on Saturday as Sheffield United and Yeovil both won to move ahead on goal difference. However, Flynn’s side could go top with victory over Crawley tonight.