So, that’s November. A month from which manager Dean Saunders targeted eight points ending with Rovers picking up just half that. Of course it was a month which contained tough games, and regardless of their league position, a trip to Millwall is never easy. Rovers created chances, and they scored two goals through the efficient Billy Sharp, but still made the long trip back north without reward.
Doncaster’s Carl Ikeme was the first of the two goalkeepers to be drawn into action; the man on-loan from Wolves alert enough to read the bounce on Liam Trotter’s effort and turn it over the bar. Though Rovers were having spells in The Lions’ half they were struggling to create chances; Herold Goulon heading over from a Simon Gillett as close as they came in the opening quarter. Trotter was close again as he glanced a Scott Barron cross wide, but he would finally get his name on the score sheet midway through the half. John Marquis picking the ball up on the left flank, came inside and ran at Habib Beye in the area, only to be caught by Brian Stock tracking back, and felled for penalty. Trotter it was who took the spot-kick, coolly placing it just beyond the full-length dive of Ikeme.
On the half hour mark Rovers came close to an equaliser; a deep cross by James O’Connor picked out Herita Ilunga who managed to keep the ball alive, and then nod it back across goal, where Goulon headed it goalwards only for Shane Lowry to clear off the line. Five minutes before the break Rovers drew level as Sharp was shoved in the back as he tried to meet an angled ball in from Stock towards far side of area. The referee awarded his second penalty of the game and Sharp drove the spot-kick into the roof of the net. Hopes of being all square at the interval were to be dashed very quickly as a weak clearance from Beye arrived at the feet of Trotter3 0 yards out. The midfielder fed Jack Smith on the edge of the box and collected a return past before slaloming into the area and slotting the ball beneath Ikeme to put Millwall 2-1 ahead. Both home goals from Trotter, this time next year he could be a millionaire.
Like the first half, the second would see the home side first to threaten as Jimmy Abdou flung himself at a long throw only for his strike to go “high and over” (Rovers’ official website). Rovers would fashion a decent opportunity of their own minutes later as Marc-Antoine Fortune broke down the left, before stepping inside and curling an effort toward the far corner, but Steve Mildenhall was on hand to turn the strike behind. But no however close Rovers could come, Millwall could come closer as Shane Lowry got his toe onto a free-kick onto the box, only to see his “trap-shot” (official website again) come back off the post.
Still by no means out of it Rovers continued to look for a way back in with Goulon firing just wide from distance. Despite a shuffle of the pack from Saunders it was to be Millwall who found the target next, extending their lead even further six minutes from time. Substitute Hameer Bouazza swinging in a free-kick from the right, which fellow sub Darius Henderson glanced just inside the far post. All over then? Not quite. Within two minutes Rovers had hauled the deficit back to a single goal; Kyle Bennett cutting inside from the left before delivering a great far-post cross which was nodded home by Sharp.
In the final four minutes there were further chances as Bennett fired just wide and Fortune headed over the bar, but the hosts could have wrapped it up too, notably as Henderson and Bouazza combined again on the break, only for the latter to be denied by a decent Ikeme stop. And so 3-2 was how it finished, Rovers remaining rooted to the bottom of the table.
Millwall line-up (4-4-2): Steve Mildenhall; Jack Smith, Darren Ward, Shane Lowry, Nathan Baker; Liam Feeney (James Henry), Liam Trotter, Jimmy Abdou, Scott Barron (Hameer Bouazza); John Marquis (Darius Henderson), Jay Simpson,
subs not used: Ryan Allsop, Brian Howard
booked: John Marquis, Darren Ward, Shane Lowry
Doncaster Rovers line-up (4-3-2-1): Carl Ikeme; James O’Connor, Sam Hird, Habib Beye (Kyle Bennett), Herita Ilunga; Simon Gillett, Brian Stock (Jamie Coppinger), Herold Goulon (Mark Wilson); Marc-Antoine Fortune, Giles Barnes; Billy Sharp
subs not used: Neil Sullivan, James Hayter
booked: Habib Beye, Simon Gillett, James O’Connor