Disappointing defeat for Rovers on the South Coast, but alas it’s not as bad as it could have been. If Rovers display at Brighton could be summed up in one word it would probably be ‘jaded’. The consensus being that the Doncaster team at current is looking like a tired version of its recent former self. After edging wins against Gillingham and Port Vale at home perhaps a defeat like this, in comparison to the Yeovil defeat in December, could be the spur to get Doncaster back on form.
Recent injuries have not helped with much of the team that guided the team up to second now sidelined or in the case of Paul Green plugging the gaps generated by the injury list. Rovers strength in depth is impressive but it was a stable line-up that edged us up the table and the wins despite far from great appearances secured in recent games may have bread complacency. The relief is that our fellow promotion contenders are suffering from the same problems.
Despite a subdued performance Rovers were not without chances and Brian Stock came close to opening the scoring inside the opening ten minutes as he found space to shoot twenty-five yards and his fierce effort struck the crossbar. Ian Westlake for the home side had an equally well-struck shot blocked on the line but true goalmouth chances were few and far between in the first half.
Rovers had further chances to open the scoring at the start of the second half but neither Paul Heffernan, Richie Wellens nor Paul Green could find the target. Instead the advantage went to the hosts as Nicky Fortser skipped into the Rovers box and went to ground under the challenge of Brain Stock and the referee pointed to the spot. Forster took the kick himself although Sullivan was equal to it and saved with his legs only for Forster to score the rebound.
The introduction of Gareth Taylor, James Hayter and Stuart Elliot fifteen minutes from time seemed to bring some much needed life to the Rovers team but genuine chances remained thin on the ground and Brighton rode out a home win to stay in the play-off hunt. The only solace for Rovers came in the form of results from elsewhere, with leaders Swansea losing at Northampton and Carlisle only managing a draw at Swindon Rover hold on to second place for another week.
Brighton & Hove Albion line-up (4-4-2); Michel Kuipers; Andrew Whing, Joel Lynch, Adam El Abd, Dean Cox; Ian Westlake, Nicky Forster (Gary Hart), Steve Thomson, Glenn Murray; Tommy Elphick, Matt Richards (Kerry Mayo)
subs not used: Jake Robincon, Johnny Dixon, Tom Fraser
booked: Ian Westlake, Steve Thomson, Andrew Whing
Doncaster Rovers line-up (4-3-1-2); Neil Sullivan; Paul Green, Adam Lockwood, Matt Mills, Gareth Roberts; Brian Stock, Richie Wellens, Sean McDaid (Stuart Elliott); Jamie Coppinger; Mark McCammon (James Hayter), Paul Heffernan (Gareth Taylor)
subs not used: Stephen Roberts, Sam Hird
booked: Brian Stock, Matt Mills, Adam Lockwood, Richie Wellens