There probably aren’t any quantifiable statistics for performances in extreme weather, I don’t think even Viva Rovers’ own statto-in-residence Dutch Uncle’s spreadsheets are that comprehensive. But prior to tonight I would have wagered that Rovers had an enviable record whilst playing in matches in which a large amount of cold things were falling from the sky. The Division Three title winning season included a memorable 5-0 victory over Kidderminster in a Belle Vue snowstorm, whilst the Conference promotion season the year before kicked onwards after Rovers overcame a major hailstorm and Southport in a 4-0 win at Haig Avenue. Sadly though extreme weather is snow longer only a good thing for Rovers as tonight Leicester City battled through the Keepmoat blizzard to take all three points.
Rovers tonight slumped to a second defeat in four days as they followed up Saturday’s loss at Loftus Road with a 1-0 home defeat to promotion chasing Leicester City. After waiting well over half a century to play each other in a competitive fixture, Rovers and Leicester had just a fortnight to wait for a second coming together, with tonight’s game coming relatively hot on the heels of a goalless draw played out at the Walkers Stadium. That non-event of a fixture in Leicester was notable only for the significant injury sustained by the Foxes striking talisman Matty Fryatt, but the loss of their most prolific marksman doesn’t seem to have affected City all that greatly, and with a mark of irony it was his replacement who struck the only goal of tonight’s match.
Martin Waghorn’s twelfth minute goal proved enough to separate the teams as the forward got onto an almighty hoof downfield from Leicester ‘keeper Chris Weale and with Gareth Roberts, the only chasing defender, losing his footing, Waghorn ran clear to fire emphatically past Neil Sullivan for the opening goal. It was no more than City deserved, even at that early stage as they had brough the game to Rovers. Michael Morrison had already headed over from a corner, and Lloyd Dyer had also engineered a chance before Waghorn’s goal. Dyer breaking from midfield exchanged passes with Nolberto Solano and only a good save by the legs of Sullivan kept him out.
Rovers attempted to hit back, as Jordan Mutch, in for his first start for the club hit a shot just wide of Weale’s goal from the edge of the area. Billy Sharp also looked to attack on the break, but was upended by Bruno Berner and the City man duly received the first yellow card of the game. Jamie Coppinger also had a faint sight of goal as he met John Oster’s cross with a header but it was comfortably saved by Weale. Leicester continued to create chances of their own though and former Rovers man Richie Wellens was next to test Sullivan with a low shot from the edge of the area.
Though Rovers were much more involved in the fixture now than they had been at the start of the game Leicester continued to have opportunities to extend their lead. Welsh midfielder Andy King could perhaps have done better when he got on the end of a lifted pass from Dyer, but he fired wired on the half volley from ten yards. At the other end Rovers were starting to threaten, but were unable to breakdown their opponents for anything more than shots from the edge of the area. Oster and Mutch both firing over, whilst Coppinger had an effort saved by Weale as the snow began to fall at the Keepmoat.
Rovers shuffled their pack for the start of the second half as James Hayter replaced Dean Shiels and the move seemed to work as the home side made an improved start. First Mark Wilson struck from distance, and then soon after the new man Hayter released Sharp and his low shot from the corner of the area just evaded Weale’s far post. Hayter saw a shot of his own saved by Weale and then the Leicester keeper was on hand again on the hour mark to keep out Coppinger’s strike from the right, albeit gathering at the second attempt. Coppinger was denied again by Weale moments later as his low shot from the edge of the area following Roberts cross was beaten away, and then Roberts had a long range strike of his own similarly dealt with by the Foxes’ ‘keeper.
Leicester were on the back foot for much of this half but again they came close to extending their lead with twenty minutes to go, as a measured through ball released substitute Nicky Adams through the middle of the field, and though Adams struck his shot well it was turned over the bar brilliantly by Sullivan, to keep the Rovers in sight. However it was the man in the opposite goal who was proving key to the match score and try as they might Rovers just could not get the ball past Weale. The Leicester keeper saved from Hayter and Coppinger again in the final ten minutes to earn a deserved clean sheet and an away win which helps keep the momentum in Leicester City’s promotion push.
Doncaster Rovers line-up (4-3-2-1); Neil Sullivan; James Chambers, James O’Connor, Elliot Ward, Gareth Roberts; John Oster, Jordan Mutch (John Spicer), Mark Wilson (Lewis Guy); Jamie Coppinger, Dean Shiels (James Hayter); Billy Sharp
subs not used: Ben Smith, Mustapha Dumbaya, Sam Hird
Leicester City line-up (4-4-2); Chris Weale; Michael Morrison, Jack Hobbs, Wayne Brown, Bruno Berner; Nolberto Solano (Nicky Adams), Richie Wellens, Andy King, Danny N’Guessen (Paul Gallagher); Lloyd Dyer, Martin Waghorn
subs not used: Conrad Logan, Alex Bruce, Yann Kermorgant, Ryan McGivern, Steve Howard
booked: Bruno Berner