As pointed out by the excellent website MirkoBolesan; coming into this game the last time Burnley had beaten Rovers Bohemian Rhapsody was top of the charts, albeit the 1991 re-release. The last time Rovers won at Turf Moor The Power by Snap! was top of the hit parade, and we will duly be storing these two faintly interesting pieces of trivia away until next season after the two sides played out a 1-1 draw of this cold Lancashire evening.
The game started somewhat unexpectedly, not on the field, but by virtue of us corretly predicting the starting line-up for the first time since something else equally distant was UK number one. An injury to Joseph Mills meant the on-loan left-back did not feature, allowing folk hero Mustapha Dumbuya to retake his place in the starting line-up with the increasingly versatile James O’Connor moving over to the left. On the field the hosts started brightly and could have been ahead in the first minute as Wade Elliot was put in on goal by a perfectly weighted through-ball, only to be denied firstly by an exellent Neil Sullivan save, and then by Shelton Martis as the defender just beat Elliott to the loose ball at the expense of a corner.A minute later the home fans were on their feet again, to appeal for a penalty as the ball appeared to strike the arm of Wayne Thomas from a corner, but the referee waved away the home side’s appeals.
Burnley were having much the better of the opening exchanges, but after twelve minutes it was Rovers who went ahead. Jamie Coppinger and John Oster exchanged passes on the right with the latter releasing the former into the area. Coppinger squared the ball dangerously, foring Jack Cork to play the ball off his own post as he tried to clear and the rebound fell perfectly for James Hayter who slotted home the opening goal. Buoyed by the goal Rovers almost struck again on the quarter hour mark as David Healy cut in from the left, but the forward’s shot was saved by Lee Grant.
The home side were not to be subdued and went on to have the better of the first half , starting with Jay Rodrigue heading over from a right-wing cross. Chris Eagles was next to threaten, capitalising on a lucky ricochet from O’Connor to get in an effort on goal, but Sullivan saved. The Rovers ‘keeper was being kept busy and was forced to save again from Martin Paterson as the forward got on the end of a free-kick whipped in from the right, but his flick goalwards was tame. The Clarets best chance would come seven minutes before the break as a corner broke out to the edge of the area and Eagles’ attempted ball back into the area struck the arm of Dean Shiels; this time the referee did point to the spot. Eagles took the penalty himself, but Sullivan read it well and diving to his right turned the ball away.
Rovers had forced opportunities of their own during the first half, but they came almost exclusively on the break. Coppinger and Shiels had both come close before a couple of breaks from Healy in the closing minutes saw the forward have opportunity to put in low crosses for first Hayter and secondly Coppinger, but on each occassion the man in the middle couldn’t quite get to the ball.
The second half was not to bring any respite for Sullivan as he was in action again soon after the break, this time saving a firmly struck shot from Eagles. Burnley were again creating the majority of the chances with Clarke Carlisle heading wide from a corner and substitute Chris Iwelumo having similar luck from an Eagles cross. Eighteen minutes into the second half the equaliser which Burnley had been thratening from the moment they went behind finally came. A corner from the left was headed goalwards by Michael Duff; Coppinger turned the ball off the line, but Cork was on hand to bundle home the rebound from close range.
Though on the back foot Rovers were by no means out of this game themselves as Hayter had forced a decent save from Grant before the eualiser and moments after the equlaiser the home keeper was forced into an even better save; diving to his right to turn behind a long range John Oster effort. From the resulting corner Thomas too brought a save from Grant whilst both Coppinger and Brian Stock saw efforts go narrowly off target in the following ten minutes. Right to the close of the game Rovers’ hosts pushed for a winner, but their chances were evaporating, with Carlisle firing an effort across the goal that looked close but ultimately went out for a throw-in. Doncaster had one last chance of their own, but Stock’s injury-time free-kick was headed over by Thomas.
There may be disappointment amongst Rovers fans after Doncaster had taken the lead in this game, but there can be no doubting that across the full ninety minutes this was a point gained rather than two points lost.
Burnley line-up (4-4-2); Lee Grant; Tyrone Mears, Michael Duff, Clarke Carlisle, Danny Fox (Graham Alexander); Dean Marney, Jack Cork, Wade Elliott, Chris Eagles (Ross Wallace); Martin Paterson (Chris Iwelumo), Jay Rodriguez
subs not used: Brian Jensen, David Edgar, Leon Cort, Steven Thompson
Doncaster Rovers line-up (4-2-2-2); Neil Sullivan; Mustapha Dumbuya, Shelton Martis, Wayne Thomas, James O’Connor; Brian Stock (Sam Hird), John Oster; Jamie Coppinger, Dean Shiels (Mark Wilson); James Hayter, David Healy (Steve Brooker)
subs not used: Gary Woods, Byron Webster, Wayne Fairhurst
booked: Brian ‘the enforcer’ Stock