If you can keep your head whilst all about you are losing theirs… well then you’ll be second in League One They say it’s the secret of successful teams; being able to win when you don’t play your best. Today Doncaster struggled to match their recent form, passes went astray, chances were wasted, but come five o’clock three more points were in the bag. Not only are Rovers second in League One, but they now have a four point cushion to third place.
In the opening ten minutes it looked like Donny were set to continue their recent devastating form; Jamie Coppinger was denied by Bristol Rovers’ keeper Steve Phillips at the far post; whilst Jason Price was twice through on goal. On the first occasion he elected to pull the ball back across the goal, unfortunately no other players had gambled on this and the visitors brought it clear, whilst minutes later the Afro Goal Machine could only divert a cross over the bar from close range.
Ten minutes in came a moment of real concern for Phillips; the keeper went up to claim a cross and was met at full force by the sizable presence of Mark McCammon. Play was held up for five minutes whilst Phillips received treatment from the physio and a mysterious man in a beige jacket. The break seemed to not only help the keeper but also his side as well as following the stoppage the visitors began to get into the game.
In fact it was the visitors who came closest to opening the scoring; firstly Matt Mills got across to block an effort from Ritchie Lambert and then as half-time approached Lambert got away down the right to send a deep cross for Chris Lines at the far-post. The forward met it well enough with a downward header, but thankfully for Rovers Neil Sullivan got across his goal to pull off a vital save.
Given a second wind by their keeper it was the Doncastrian Rovers who enjoyed the better of things in the opening twenty minutes of the second half. However a breakthrough seemed no closer as a Jason Price header against the post was as close as they came to opening the scoring. Twenty minutes in and a clear chance befell Rovers as Richie Wellens was tripped by Aaron Lescott just inside the box and the referee pointed to the spot.
There was added pressure on Brian Stock as he stepped up with Rovers yet to score a penalty all season; however the midfielder exorcised those ghosts with a well placed spot-kick to open the scoring. And like a bus or a decent music album; you wait ages for one and then along comes another. In stoppage time a Stock free-kick was adjudged to have struck a hand in the Bristol Rovers’ wall and a second penalty was awarded.
By now Paul Heffernan had entered the field and he it was who took the second kick; dispatching it low into the bottom right corner for Rovers’ second. A 2-0 win perhaps flattered Rovers to a degree; although in spite of their chance to open the scoring it was clear that their West Country opponents had come to the Keepmoat Stadium looking for a draw. No time for sentiment; a win is a win and the promotion charge is starting to gather some momentum. It could be us, and it could be this year.
Man of the Match: Matt Mills got the official nod and rightly so; whilst Rovers looked to add their lead Mills was key in making sure that the opposing Rovers did not find a way back into the match with an impressive defensive display. Four clean sheets in the last five games now and its easy to see why.
Wilson Watch: On the bench but not involved in the game meant an afternoon of dugout based banter and occasional jogs up the sideline for Viva Rovers’ man.
Doncaster Rovers line-up (4-3-1-2): Neil Sullivan; James O’Connor, Stephen Roberts, Matt Mills, Gareth Roberts; Richie Wellens (Sean McDaid), Paul Green, Brian Stock; James Coppinger (Lewis Guy); Jason Price (Paul Heffernan), Mark McCammon
subs not used: Mark Wilson, Martin Woods
booked: Mark McCammon (flattening of opposition goalkeeper)
Bristol Rovers line-up (4-4-2): Steve Phillips; Joe Jacobson, Craig Hinton, Stuart Campbell, Aaron Lescott; Andy Williams, David Pipe (Anthony Pulis), Danny Coles, Craig Disley (Sean Rigg); Ritchie Lambert; Chris Lines (Sammy Igoe)
subs not used: Chris Carruthers, Byron Anthony
booked: Stuart Campbell, Steve Phillips, Danny Coles