Late season with nothing to play for, time to play a few youngsters and kick back and relax right? Not at the Keepmoat Stadium. Scunthorpe secured their Championship status earlier in the week, Rovers last month, but neither side played as if they had one eye on an Ibizian pool party. Two of the divisions most unfashionable clubs, certainly the Championship’s least fashionable derby, yet it served up a thoroughly entertaining seven goal game.
It was nineteen minutes before the first of those seven goals arrived, and even before that the game had already brought a raft of chances. For Rovers Jordan Mutch had fired narrowly wide, Emmanuel-Thomas had seen a close range effort saved and Jamie Coppinger had come closest of all, his curling strike from the edge of the box clipping the outside of the post. Not to be out done Scunthorpe met a similar fate with their next attack as Martyn Woolford too saw his strike hit the outside of the upright.
The next chance though would bring the opening goal to the visitors. A header forward from halfway flicked on by the toe of Paul Hayes set Gary Hooper free to bear down the left channel on Neil Sullivan’s goal and the forward finished well to put Scunthorpe ahead. The lead didn’t last long, as three minutes later Rovers drew level. A long raking pass forward from Sam Hird landed in the path of Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and the loanee showed great technique to calmly lift the bouncing ball it over Scunthorpe ‘keeper Joe Murphy and into the back of the net for the equaliser.
Back level Rovers continued to put the pressure on Scunthorpe’s goal. Mutch saw an effort saved by Murphy and then hit a later effort wide after being played in by Brian Stock. Emmanuel-Thomas also saw a shot saved, whilst Coppinger was blocked after impressively working his way into a shooting position. Just before the break Rovers got the goal they’d been threatening Out on the left wing Gareth Roberts exchanged passes with Coppinger to find space on the overlap to put in a deep high cross which left Murphy in two minds, but not Mutch. The midfielder arriving it at the far post calmly side-footed the ball home with a deft volley to put Rovers in front.
Rovers had the better of the second half’s opening minutes, but that didn’t stop the Iron from leveling the score. Hird’s ball out to James O’Connor on the right was intercepted by a powerful Woolford header forward and the bounce evaded Shelton Martis to put Hayes through on goal. Like his strike partner Hooper earlier Hayes took the chance well to slot home the equaliser. The scores were not level for long though as within five minutes Rovers had retaken the lead.
Martis, making amends for his earlier slip-up managed to hit a thirty yard pass along the floor to the feet of Emmanuel-Thomas and he controlled the ball before flicking it neatly into the path of James Hayter. The Rovers forward still had much to do, but he skipped past the challenge of two United defenders on the edge of the box before calmly rolling the ball home to put Rovers back in front.
In keeping with the game thus far Scunthorpe were not about to roll over and they pushed for another equaliser with Hayes, Grant McCann and Gary Thompson all just off target with efforts on Sullivan’s goal. The Rovers keeper was later on hand to turn the ball round the post from a Scunthorpe corner before Jonathan Forte came closer than any of his team-mates as the former Rover rattled the bar. Doncaster got the ball away, but not for long as United attacked again down their right. Though the initial cross from Matt Sparrow was blocked the ball never left Rovers area and via Grant McCann and Forte it found itself to Hooper who finished first time to draw the visitors level again.
Three all with just five minutes left and still the game wasn’t over as Murphy saved well from Coppinger and then turned a late Paul Heffernan effort over the bar. Dean Shiels took the resulting corner from the right and picked out Martis at the far side of the six yard box with the defender’s his looping header dropping under the bar to put Rovers 4-3 in front. Incredibly it could have been even more with Roberts having a great strike turned over the bar by Murphy, but to the benefit of many a South Yorkshire heart rate it ended 4-3.
Doncaster Rovers line-up (4-3-2-1); Neil Sullivan, James O’Connor, Sam Hird, Shelton Martis, Gareth Roberts; Mark Wilson, Brian Stock (Dean Shiels), Jordan Mutch (Adam Lockwood); Jamie Coppinger, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas (Paul Heffernan); James Hayter
subs not used: Ben Smith, Mustapha Dumbaya, Sean McDaid, Waide Fairhurst
booked: Shelton Martis, Brian Stock
Scunthorpe United line-up (4-4-2): Joe Murphy, Andy Wright, Cliff Byrne, David Mirfin (Sam Togwell), Kenny Milne; Matt Sparrow, Grant McCann, Martyn Woolford (Josh Wright), Gary Thomspon (Jonathan Forte); Paul Hayes, Gary Hooper
subs not used: Josh Lillis, Michael O’Connor, Donal McDermott, Nial Canavan
booked: Matt Sparrow