Four is the magic number for Rovers at current as a fourth match unbeaten from the holiday period maintains fourth place in League One. On a Rovers fans’ message-board following the Yeovil game just over a fortnight ago one fan claimed to be as despondent as they had ever been about Rovers at that point; put in wider perspective its a point that seems hard to believe yet alone entertain. A year on from playing their first ever game at the Keepmoat Stadium Rovers held form side Walsall 1-1 to start 2008 in their highest league position in more than a quarter of a century.
The Saddlers began this game on the back of a fourteen match unbeaten run and the confidence that brings was clear with early efforts from Scott Dann and Richard Taundry comfortably saved by Neil Sullivan. Still, Rovers have had their own run of form of late and were soon mounting their own attack, with Jamie Coppinger at the heart; first the midfielder crossed for Stephen Roberts to head over, before he came close twice himself, a first effort pulled wide of the far post, a second denied only by a last ditch tackle from Taundry.
Twenty minutes in Rovers found the net, however it would not count and with Jason Price’s effort ruled out for offside Walsall pushed forward to enjoy their best spell of the game. And yet, despite a succession of chances the Rovers goal remained unbreached as Ishmel Demontagnac and Mark Bradley put chances over the bar and Michael Ricketts and Edrissa Sonko both pulled efforts wide. The storm weathered Rovers pushed on and took the chance to end the half in front as Price was first to react to a blocked James Hayter effort and bundle the ball home.
The second half began with a chance for Rovers to double their lead but Clayton Ince did enough to turn Hayter’s shot round the post, and the Walsall keeper was similarly adept to turn a Brian Stock effort over the bar fifteen minutes later. In between Rovers’ chances Walsall themselves threatend as Sonko hit the side netting. With quarter of an hour left the home side grabbed their equaliser as Dann met a right wing corner to level the match. The Walsall midfielder almost put his side in front with a similar effort minutes later as the hosts piled on the pressure, but this time his header cleared the bar. Despite the Saddlers pressure, the last chance came Rovers’ way as they broke through the home side’s stretched defence. The ball was squared to substitute Lewis Guy who reached it ahead of Ince, only for the ball to find the side netting.
Honours even and a creditable draw for Doncaster to keep them up and well and truly in the promotion hunt. With games against fellow promotion rivals Carlisle and Leeds next up January looks likely to be the month when we finally get to find out Rovers true promotion credentials.
Walsall line-up (4-4-2): Clayton Ince; Rhys Weston, Daniel Fox, Anthony Gerrard, Darren Wrack; Ishmel Demontagnac (Paul Hall), Scott Dann, Mark Bradley, Edrissa Sonko (Troy Deeney); Richard Taundry (Alex Nicholls), Michael Ricketts
subs not used: Ian Roper, Bertrand Bossu
booked: Edrissa Sonko, Troy Deeney
Doncaster Rovers line-up (4-3-1-2): Neil Sullivan; James O’Connor, Adam Lockwood, Stephen Roberts, Gareth Roberts; Paul Green, Richie Wellens (Martin Woods), Brian Stock; James Coppinger (Mark Wilson); James Hayter (Lewis Guy), Jason Price (Mark McCammon)
subs not used: Martin Woods, Craig Nelthorpe
booked: Stephen Roberts