Alas it seems good things do come to he who waits. After two postponements and then eighty-seven minutes of this eventual tie Rovers finally struck the goal that secured their passage to the FA Cup fourth round for a second successive season. Never mind that we have won just one tie to get there, the memories of falling at the 4th Qualifying Round are still fresh in my mind, so any chance to feature in the actual 4th round is most welcome.
As with the league game against Watford at the Keepmoat on Saturday Rovers wasted no time in taking the game to their opponents in London tonight. Inside the first thirty seconds some neat work on the left from Dean Shiels enabled him to get the ball to Billy Sharp in the box, but after turning smartly he could only fire his shot wide. Within two minutes Sharp had a second chance as he attacked from the right of the area, but as before his final shot flew wide of Lewis Price’s goal.
There was a further opportunity for Rovers inside the opening five minutes as Shiels bore down on goal, but he too hit the side-netting and subsequently the threat of Rovers early momentum began to lessen and the home side came into the game. Charlie MacDonald was the recipient of Brentford’s first real chance on goal but his header was saved, whilst his fellow forward Ben Strevens had a similar chance minutes later from a Myles Weston cross, but his header was off target. Delivering the ball into the box from wide appeared to be at the heart of the Bees’ gameplan and Sam Wood also headed over from another such delivery later in the half.
Rovers were having the majority of the chances and the possession in this half, though unfortunately two of them came the way of Mark Wilson who’s shooting is perhaps best described as erratic. Brian Stock proved more accurate though as he forced Price into a decent save with an effort from distance, as too did Sharp with a low effort from twenty yards which Price did well to get down to ensuring the first half ended goalless.
Perhaps taking their cue from Rovers start to the match Brentford were the livelier of the two sides in the opening minutes of the second half, though neither side managed to create any chances of note until around twenty minutes in. Dean Shiels forging a run at goal but his effort was wide of the post. At the other end MacDonald endured the same luck with a strike on Neil Sullivan’s goal.
As the game wore out Rovers began to make their presence as the tie’s highest ranked side show as they pushed for a late winner. However Price was not one to throw in the towel at this stage as he made a great save from a well-struck shot by Stock. Rovers were closing in on the key goal now and both Shiels and Jamie Coppinger were unlucky to see efforts fall the wrong side of the goal frame.
With three minutes to go Rovers finally found the breakthrough from a corner on the right-wing. The ball was sent out to Stock on the edge of the box and though the captain miss-hit his shot into the ground the bounce fell kindly for James O’Connor. The defender hurled himself at the ball in the six yard box to plant a diving header into the back of the net. Goal finally found Sean O’Driscoll threw on defender Sam Hird to seal the deal and despite a late scare as Sam Saunders shot wide Rovers managed to do exactly that to set-up a fourth round tie with Derby County this coming Saturday.
Brentford line-up (4-4-2): Lewis Price; Danny Foster, Leon Legge, Alan Bennett, Ryan Dickinson; Sam Wood (Sam Saunders), Kevin Connor, Marcus Bean (David Hunt), Myles Weston; Charlie MacDonald, Ben Strevens
subs not used: Simon Moore, Mark Phillips, Jon Bostock, Lewis Ferrell, Karleigh Osborne
Doncaster Rovers line-up (4-3-2-1): Neil Sullivan; James Chambers, James O’Connor, Jason Shackell, Gareth Roberts; John Oster (James Hayter), Brian Stock (Sam Hird), Mark Wilson; Jamie Coppinger, Dean Shiels (John Spicer); Billy Sharp
subs not used: Ben Smith, Byron Webster, Lewis Guy, Paul Heffernan