“Today’s display was pleasing, but we missed the final touch.”

“Today’s display was pleasing, but we missed the final touch.”

After Rovers saw out their final home game of the 2023-24 season with a goalless draw against Coventry City, as they passed up another opportunity to mathematically secure their Championship status again. After John Eustace was shown a straight red card in the second-half after an altercation with former Rover, Kasey Palmer, first-team coach, Keith Downing reflected on the stalemate with RoversTV.

“Today’s game was a real positive response after last week’s defeat. Coventry City are a difficult side to play against and they have a real threat with their front four. We nullified their threat and created 30 attempts in and around their box where they’ve put their bodies on the line with double-figures in blocks. We had opportunities to score today, and we haven’t done that, but it was a really positive response after last week.

“The ball bounced around a lot, even on set-plays as it refused to go over the line. We needed that bit of luck and quality in the final third that we were short on throughout the game. The effort and attitude of the lads have been brilliant ever since we’ve all walked through the door. I can’t speak highly enough of them all, they’ve really committed to everything we’ve spoken about. We’re now going into the last game of the season, but we’ve hit the target of 50 points we wanted to achieve; we just need that one big effort, next week at Leicester City.

“Reflecting back on the season, come its end will determine whether today was one point gained or two lost. You can only control the process of the players and I think they’ve had a positive attitude. We’ve had five defeats in 17 games, we’ve reversed the negativity of the results. Obviously, we wanted more wins, but we’re now going into the last week with the situation in our hands. We’re a positive group and we’re looking forward to it. It’s very important that things are still in our hands. We’re still positive and if you get a performance like we did today where we restricted a very good Coventry side who have caused problems for many teams this season, I thought it was a solid performance off the back of last week. Today’s display was pleasing, but we missed the final touch.

“We’re in control and calm about the situation. The players have remained focussed, trained well and worked really well. We’re extremely positive going into the last game, we just have to finish the job off. The week’s preparation won’t change. The boys know what the game plans are and have stuck to it. We’ve probably had a few individual errors over the past few games, but they’ve cut that out today and we go into next Saturday with an air of positivity. The supporters were excellent today, they go right behind the lads and continued voicing their support until the final whistle. We’re grateful for that, we needed that support today, as we do next week at Leicester. Hopefully, we can get a good band of them down in Leicester supporting us.

“I thought the red card for John (Eustace) was harsh. He was obviously trying to grab the ball off the player (Kasey Palmer) who was holding onto it, preventing us from playing quickly. I thought that was harsh.”