Bugger me, Rovers are second! An apt intro I’m sure you’ll agree as a 2-0 home win over Hartlepool lifts Rovers into second place in League One. I suppose this is the sort of thing that the Iain Dowie catchphrase ‘bouncebackability’ was invented for. Friday night’s 4-0 home defeat to Swansea suddenly a distant memory as a 2-0 win over Hartlepool and a spot of luck in the night’s other results lifts Rovers into the automatic promotion places. Football is alright after all.
Sean O’Driscoll brought in Mark Wilson at the expense of Martin Woods to offer an anchor rather than an extra attacking wheel to the Rovers’ midfield whilst Matt Mills replaced the suspended Stephen Roberts. Rovers’ bench contained a double sign of encouragement for Rovers fans too, with both Paul Heffernan and Graeme Lee fit and huddling together for warmth in layers of Rovers emblazoned clothing.
Its often unfair to break a game down into its mere statistics; however those from this match were quite damning. Not content with 60% of the possession Rovers boasted twenty-six efforts on goal, seventeen of which were on target, considerably more than Hartlepool’s two wayward efforts. The first of those off-target Doncaster efforts came inside the first minute with Jason Price turning the ball over from close range; whilst the opening on target effort came as James Coppinger whose volley was turned away by United keeper Arran Lee-Barrett.
Despite boasting much of the possession Rovers would have to wait until ten minutes before the break to convert their advantage into goals. James O’Connor laying the ball inside for Richie Wellens to fire the ball home from the edge of the area. A decent first half performance by Doncaster but there was much more to come in the second half.
Ten minutes after the break Rovers were two up; Hartlepool failed to clear a corner and although Mark McCammon’s effort struck Price, it fell to Adam Lockwood who slotted it home. 2-0 up Rovers began to dominate; Paul Green and McCammon both hitting a couple of efforts just off target whilst Price was denied by a goal-line clearance, twice, once e after lobbing Lee-Barrett and again following a Coppinger cut-back.
When Hartlepool did break up the siege they lacked cohesion when in the unfamiliar territory of Rovers penalty area and so found themselves on the back foot again as Gareth Roberts broke down the left before forcing a save from the keeper. Chances came and went the way of Green, Wellens, McCammon and substitute Lewis Guy before eventually the referee blew for full-time. It could have been more but the 2-0 win had more than done the job.
Wilson Watch: At last viva rovers own Mark Wilson returns to the starting line-up and does what he does best. Sitting in the midfield breaking up any rogue Hartlepool attacks before calmly laying the ball off to someone else; it may not be that exciting, but you miss him when he’s not there.
Doncaster Rovers line-up (4-3-1-2): Neil Sullivan; James O’Connor, Matt Mills, Adam Lockwood, Gareth Roberts; Mark Wilson (Sean McDaid), Paul Green, Richie Wellens; James Coppinger (Lewis Guy); Jason Price (Paul Heffernan), Mark McCammon
subs not used: Graeme Lee, Martin Woods
Hartlepool United line-up (4-4-2): Arran Lee-Barrett; Jamie McCunnie (Stephen Turnbull), Michael Nelson, Godwin Antwi, Richie Humphreys; Alan Thomspon (Richie Barker), Anthony Sweeney, Gary Liddle, David Foley; Joel Porter (Michale Mackay), James Brown
subs not used: Robbie Elliott, Jan Budtz
booked: Joel Porter