Thursday, 5 January 2017

Doncaster Rovers 3 v Portsmouth 1 - EFL League 2

Thursday 5th January 2017
SktBet EFL League 2
at the Keepmoat Stadium
Doncaster Rovers (1) 3
Jon Marquis 5, 71
Tommy Rowe 58
Portsmouth (1) 1
Kal Naismith 41
Admission £20 Programme £3
Attendance 5568 (inc. 669 away)
Doncaster Rovers:
Marosi (Etheridge, 86), Alcock, Baudry, Butler, Mason, Rowe, Grant, Houghton, Blair (Williams, 54), Coppinger (C) (Middleton, 66), Marquis. Subs not used: Wright, Keegan, May, Beestin.
Forde, Doyle (C), Burgess, Clarke, Rose, Stevens, Evans, Bennett (Roberts, 66), Baker ( Lalkovic, 61), Naismith (Chaplin, 75), Smith. Subs not used: O’Brien, Whatmough, Linganzi, Hunt.
Upon arrival at the Keepmoat Stadium, it was apparent just what lengths Rovers had gone to, to make sure that this televised game went ahead.
The potentially problem area of the pitch, in front of the 'Black Bank', was getting some special treatment with some specialist apparatus, that I have only ever previously seen being used in the home of my 'grow your own', horticultural enthusiast friend Jimmy the Weed, who lives in nearby Stainforth.
He's a popular lad is Jimmy, with a stream of visitors turning up at his house at all hours... even the local plain clothes C.I.D. park a discreet distance along the road from his homestead on a regular basis, hoping to catch a glimpse of him.
I'm not sure what he does for a living, but never seems to be short of cash.
Last year, (AKA, just a few days ago), I watched Rovers take a point, out of what was a less than convincing display at Mansfield Town.
Which actually bodes very well for Darren Ferguson's side, because the teams at the top end of the table, generally speaking, tend to pick up a fair amount of fortuitous points (and favourable 50/50 decisions) along the way, during the course of a successful season, whereas the opposite applies to clubs who are battling it out in the 'squeaky bum time' positions, near the bottom of the pile.
Peter Beagrie... I saw him make his debut for the England U21 side in 1987
'Donny' returned to pole position on Monday, when they squeezed past a stubborn Stevenage resistance to win 1-0, while Plymouth Argyle and Carlisle United both lost.
Tonight's visitors Portsmouth, beat fellow promotion contenders Luton Town 1-0 on Monday too, meaning that Paul Cook's Pompey arrived at the Keepmoat, well placed in fourth, having lost just once in their previous ten games.
John Marquis and Andy Williams gave Doncaster a two goal advantage in 2-1 away win at Fratton Park in October, before Carl Baker pulled one back for Portsmouth, in front of  a crowd of 16,950.
As a consequence of tonight's entertaining win, Rovers finished the game a whole ten points ahead of Pompey.
The game was just five minutes old, James Coppinger broke free on the right flank, before delivering a cross into the visitors six yard box, that Matty Blair flicked on to John Marquis, who powered a header into the bottom left hand corner, against his former club, to put the home side ahead.
Connor Grant went close to doubling the home sides lead moments lateer, but he thwarted by the Pompey keeper David Forde. Meanwhile that man Coppinger was enjoying a lot of space out on the right and Michael Doyle had to make a timely interception to get rid of another cross into Forde's six yard box.
Paul Cook, the visitors manager, called their start to the game 'shambolic', however, once Portsmouth found their feet and began to impose themselves on the game, they probably had the better of the remainder of the first half.
"Na then... mi owd flower!"
Matt Clarke almost levelled things up, when he met Clive Baker's corner kick with a downward header, that Marko Marosi saved at full stretch down to his right and pushed the ball away, along his line.
Portsmouth were stretching Rovers to the max, with Kal Naismith and Gareth Evans, in particular, causing their hosts no end of problems out on  the right, where they won  a string of corners.
While Kyle Bennett, a former 'Donny' player, was chipping away looking for opening, as his every touch was booed by the home supporters, by way of a 'tribute' to their former player.
But Rovers countered and Niall Mason went close with a shot that found the side netting, before exposing the chink in Portsmouth's armour on the left hand side of their defence again, when right back Craig Alcock's overlapping run, led to him picking out Marquis with a pin point delivery, whose header hit the right hand upright.
Edna Stevens put the ball through the Rovers defence towards Michael Smith, but Marosi moved quickly off of his line to cut out the danger.
Four minutes before the break, Bennett latched onto a stray pass in midfield and quickly played the ball forward into the path of Naismith who motored forward and planted the ball past Marosi.
To be fair to Portsmouth, the equaliser had been coming and they hadn't deserved to go in at the break a goal behind anyway.
HT: Donny Rovers 1 v Pompey 1
The start to the second half  was a little more tentative, with just the onereal  effort on goal for the first ten minutes or so, when Evans tested Marosi from long range.
But just before the hour, Tommy Rowe crashed the ball past Forde, to restore the home side's lead, taking advantage of the bounce from Coppinger's cross to see off the challenge of Evans before unleashing a pile driver of a shot into the roof of the Pompey net.
Pompey then made two substitutes in quick succession, taking off Baker, whose movement had been great off the ball, but who seemed to have put his boots on the wrong feet whenever he was actually in possession and sending on Milan Lalkovic, and then replacing Bennett with Gary Roberts, just have the former Rovers player had been booked and was starting to show signs of frustration creeping in against his former team. I'm not suggesting for a moment that Bennett has a volatile edge, but it was a shrewd moment for cook to make a swap.
But before Pompey had time to regroup, Marquis struck again for the league leaders, smacking home a well executed volley from twelve yards out, after Rowe's cross had found it's way through to him via a deflection.
Lalkovic was denied by another Marosi save at full stretch, from Evans cross, as Pompey tried to get back into the game.
Marosi struggled to hold onto a cross near his penalty spot, with Smith challenging and the ball fell to Conor Chaplin, who had just come on in place of Naismith, but a well timed clearance by Alcock thwarted the third and final Pompey substitute, from forcing the issue, with six minutes to go.
Sadly the Rovers keeper was stretchered off, having not got up from his coming together with Smith (purely accidental) and the game was held up for seven minutes while he was attended to.
Ross Etheridge took over in goal for Rovers, for the remainder of the game, that they saw out safely to hold on to the three vital points.
FT: Doncaster Rovers 3 v Portsmouth 1