Ever wish it could be Christmas every day? Rovers defeat Northampton 2-0 at the Keepmoat to move into sixth in League One and suddenly all is well in the world again. I sensed it was going to be a good day when an old fella passed me on his way out of the West Stand toilets whistling “Get Ready for This”. How can anything go wrong when pensioners are whistling early 90s dance music? If the omens were good then the confidence infused in the side from Saturday’s 4-0 win over Crewe was even better.
From the start Rovers looked to continue where they left off at Gresty Road as Mark Bunn was called on to save a header from Mark McCammon. The Barbadian forward did not have to wait long before he was given a second chance and he took it emphatically; controlling James Coppinger’s right wing cross before firing it into the top corner from fifteen yards. Inside the opening quarter of an hour Rovers nearly doubled their lead, but Bunn was on hand again to save as Paul Green headed McCammon’s cross goal-wards.
Rovers took control with McCammon heading over and Coppinger being denied by a great tackle from Danny Jones; whilst all the visitors could muster was a long range effort from Andy Kirk which was comfortably dealt with by Neil Sullivan. After half an hour came Rovers’ seemingly inevitable second goal as Adam Lockwood headed home Brian Stock’s near post corner. The rest of the half was all Rovers, but despite efforts from Green, Coppinger and McCammon it remained two nil at the break.
Paul Hubertz has often caused problems for Rovers; he’s the type of player that Doncaster’s defence has failed to figure out. Last season he helped Millwall to three points at the Keepmoat, while earlier this season he was a significant presence in the 2-0 defeat at Sixfields. Today he wasn’t allowed into the game as Stephen Roberts returned to the form of two years ago to stop Hubertz doing anything with the ball, and often to stop the forward even receiving it in the first place.
With Stephen Roberts stifling the Cobblers’ main threat at one end Rovers were able to close out the game, and in fact it was Roberts who came closest to adding to Rovers score. The defender met Brian Stock’s inswinging corner with a downwards header that beat Bunn only to strike by the crossbar; and though the centre half was quickest to the rebound he succeeded only in hitting the bar a second time. Northampton’s best chance had come and gone when Jason Crowe found the side netting from Joe Burnell’s cross minutes into the second half allowing Rovers to coast to a comfortable and deserved victory that was a far cry from the last home match against Yeovil. Merry Christmas everyone.
Man of the Match: All hail the return of Stephen Roberts; after two years in and out of the side the Welsh centre half is back to the form that saw off Robin Van Persie two years ago. Someone get John Toshack tickets for Saturday.
Wilson Watch: With Sean O’Driscoll preferring the more attacking Paul Green at present a late cameo sub appearance was all that was afforded Viva Rovers’ own Mark Wilson. Still the midfielder emphasised the strength in depth Rovers now have as he helped to prevent Northampton finding a way into the game.
Doncaster Rovers line-up (4-3-1-2): Neil Sullivan; James O’Connor, Adam Lockwood, Stephen Roberts, Sean McDaid (Gareth Roberts); Paul Green, Richie Wellens, Brian Stock (Mark Wilson); James Coppinger; Jason Price (James Hayter), Mark McCammon
subs not used: Lewis Guy, Martin Woods
Northampton Town line-up (4-4-2): Mark Bunn; Danny Jackman, Mark Hughes, Liam Dolman, Danny Jones; Jason Crowe, Joe Burnell (Alex Dyer), Bradley Johnson, Dean Bowditch (Colin Larkin); Andy Kirk, Paul Hubertz
subs not used: Brett Johnson, Danny May, Chris Dunn
booked: Liam Dolman, Joe Burnell