Forget Leeds, forget Swansea this was the result that could make Rovers’ season. This was the Scarborough of the Conference promotion season and the Yeovil of the Division Three title. Rovers have beaten their bogey side. For me the significant factor of Rovers’ recent promotions from the Conference and from the then Division Three was the ability to get a win away at opponents we had previously struggled to get to grips with. In the Conference the Boxing Day demolition of Scarborough was that result; in Division Three a 1-0 win on a Tuesday night at Yeovil was the indication that things were going for us. Last night’s victory at Bournemouth could well be this season’s equivalent.
Since Sean O’Driscoll made the switch from the south coast to Doncaster we had failed to defeat Bournemouth, and our poor run against the Cherries goes back much further; the 5-0 defeat that signalled the end of Nic Priet’s English football career, and even the 2-1 FA Cup defeat in heavy rain when Justin Jackson was sent off, presumably for heavy petting and bombing in the shallow end. Try as we might we just can’t get a result at Dean Court; until now.
Two goals from the self styled Afro Goal Machine Jason Price proved the difference between Rovers and the struggling Dorset side as Rovers equalled a club record with their eleventh successive game unbeaten on the road. When you’re looking to defeat your nemesis an early goal is always helpful and they don’t come any earlier than the opening minute. A deep cross from Gareth Roberts on the Rovers’ left was met by Price and his looping header from the edge of the box had enough on it to beat Gareth Stewart in the Bournemouth goal.
Despite Rovers’ early goal it was not until half an hour in that the game really came to life as Shaun Cooper was booked for a foul on Paul Green. Minutes later the home side had a penalty appeal turned away as Marvin Bartley went down in the box under challenge from the Rovers centre half pairing Stephen Roberts and Matt Mills. Just before half-time it got worse for the home side as a challenge from Cooper on Richie Wellens caused your classic footballers push and shove match that saw bookings for Price and Mark McCammon, and more importantly a second yellow for Cooper to leave the home side with ten men.
Gareth Roberts was in the thick of the action at the start of the second half with an effort on the Bournemouth goal blocked, and a vital clearance at the Rovers end as the Welshman headed off the line. On the hour mark Doncaster took control of the game and were unlucky not to add to their tally as Roberts and McCammon came close to grabbing a second goal. However, Rovers did not have to wait long before they were two goals up; Wellens slotting a through ball into the path of Price who slotted the ball home to help secure a key away victory.
Bournemouth line-up (4-4-2): Gareth Stewart; Josh Gowling, Russell Perrett, Jason Pearce, Warren Cummings; Marvin Bartley, Lee Bradbury (Jo Tessum), Shaun Cooper, Max-Alain Gradel; Sam Vokes, Jo Kuffour (Brett Pitman)
subs not used: Ryan Pryce, Joe Partington, Josh McQuoid
booked: Shaun Cooper, Russell Perrett, Josh Gowling
sent off; Shaun Cooper (second bookable offence)
Doncaster Rovers line-up (4-3-1-2): Neil Sullivan; James O’Connor, Matt Mills, Stephen Roberts, Gareth Roberts; Paul Green, Richie Wellens, Brian Stock (Mark Wilson); James Coppinger; Jason Price (Paul Heffernan), Mark McCammon (Lewis Guy)
subs not used: Adam Lockwood, Sean McDaid
booked: Jason Price, Mark McCammon