What a difference a week makes. After the despondency of a home defeat to Yeovil comes an emphatic away victory at Crewe to lift Doncastrian spirits. Crewe must be sick of the site of Rovers. After the late drama of last season’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Northern Final the current campaign has now brought two comprehensive Doncaster victories. Perhaps its something in the two sides’ footballing ethos that opens these games up, whatever it is it helped clear a gathering cloud from above Sean O’Driscoll.
Inside the first thirty seconds Rovers had forced a corner, and they would rarely let up for the rest of the first half. Crewe’s only chances were few and far between; Neil Sullivan saving from Shaun Miller early on and Michael O’Corner midway through the half. Otherwise it was all Rovers, with Jason Price and James Hayter having a couple of efforts each, but closest of all was Adam Lockwood who headed against the crossbar, before Stephen Roberts headed the follow-up effort wide.
Price came close again after half an hour but his effort was cleared off the line by Julien Baudet. Instead the forward had to wait until five minutes before the break before eventually breaking the deadlock as he reacted to Hayter’s knockdown to roll the ball home for the opening goal. Five minutes into the second half and Price and Rovers had two goals, the forward beating the offside trap and latching on to Hayter’s through-ball.
Two goals in front Rovers were in control and unlucky not to add to their tally with Price and Hayter only a better first touch away from another goal. Pinned back Crewe’s first shot on target came midway through the half as ironic home cheers greeted Chris McCreedy’s effort. With quarter of an hour left came Alex’s best chance of the game but Daniel O’Donnell’s great header was met by a brilliant tip over from Neil Sullivan. And just as it was starting to look brighter for Crewe their task tilted uphill once again as Gary Roberts received a second booking for a late challenge on Jamie Coppinger.
In injury time Rovers finally made the extra man count, twice. First Paul Green made the most of a defender’s hesitation on the edge of the box to pounce and fire home for Rovers third goal. And then in the final minute, the pick of the bunch, a great passing move involving Richie Wellens, James Coppinger and Martin Woods was finished by a subtle backheel from Mark McCammon putting Lewis Guy through and the striker cut inside to wrap things up with the fourth goal.
An emphatic win for Rovers and a much needed one too to through some long overdue optimism amongst the Rovers fans, and just in time for Christmas too.
Crewe Alexandra line-up (4-4-2): Ben Williams; Daniel Woodward (James Bailey), Gary Roberts, Neil Cox, Julien Baudet; Michael O’Connor, Chris McCready, Daniel O’Donnell, Elliott Bennett (Lee Barnard); Nicky Maynard, Shaun Miller
subs not used: Ben Rix, Ryan Lowe, Byron Moore
booked: Gary Roberts, Shaun Miller
sent off: Gary Roberts (second bookable offence)
Doncaster Rovers line-up (4-3-1-2): Neil Sullivan; James O’Connor, Adam Lockwood, Stephen Roberts, Sean McDaid; Paul Green, Richie Wellens, Brian Stock (Martin Woods); James Coppinger; James Hayter (Lewis Guy), Jason Price (Mark McCammon)
subs not used: Gareth Roberts, Mark Wilson
booked: Stephen Roberts