Doncaster Rovers kicked off their first match on their return to the Championship with a disappointing home defeat to Blackpool, despite a goal by skipper Rob Jones.
Paul Dickov handed full debuts to Ross Turnbull in goal, Bongani Khumalo alongside Rob Jones at the back, Richie Wellens (pictured) as a holding midfielder alongside Dean Furman and Mark Duffy as one of three ‘floaters’ behind Chris Brown. James Husband got the nod at left back following Tommy Spurr’s departure to Blackburn Rovers, and was likely to go head-to-head with Blackpool dangerman Tom Ince in a key mini battle. Paul Ince left summer signing Michael Chopra on the bench, with fellow new boy Steven Davies preferred in a central striking position flanked by Ince and Bobby Grant.
After a fairly subdued opening to the contest, the game burst into life just before the ten minute mark.
Husband had to be alert on the edge of his own penalty area to prevent a Martinez pass reaching dangerman Ince.
And his vital intervention sent Rovers on their way to mounting their first serious attempt.
Duffy’s angled cross from the right was met by Brown who arched his back but saw his header drift agonisingly wide of the far post.
At the other end Davies fired a thunderous shot from a seemingly impossible angle, forcing Turnbull to save smartly down to his right.
However, from the corner came the opening goal. A headed clearance only reached Martinez, whose fierce drive was parried by Turnbull.
Rovers’ busy new keeper did his best to smother Broadfoot’s attempt on the rebound but the ball squirmed to DAVIES who gratefully tapped home.
The goal brought a flurry of yellow cards. Harris was booked for a scything challenge on Coppinger as he broke clear, before Furman saw yellow for a tackle from behind.
Osbourne then joined them in the book, bringing down Duffy right on the edge of the box. Gilks went down to his right to save Cotterill’s resultant free kick.
The confident visitors then enjoyed their best spell of the first half. Husband threw himself to block another long range effort but received a rollicking from Jones for his part in the build-up.
Turnbull was less convincing, dealing with a cross-come-shot from Ince, who was finding pockets of space and proving to be a real handful.
At the other end Duffy was proving to be Doncaster’s bright spark, this time picking up possession wide on the left and flashing an effort just wide.
Brown then saw his looping header from Coppinger’s cross saved by Gilks as Rovers ended the half on top.
Duffy then snatched at a volley after a surging run down the left flank by Cotterill, before another Cotterill cross was headed over by Wellens.
Blackpool almost caught Rovers out right from the restart when Ince weaved his way into the box, only for Khumalo to make an important intervention.
Brown headed dangerously across the face of goal at the other end but there were no other Rovers players on the same wavelength.
But it was a case of cometh the hour, cometh the man for Doncaster as their talismanic skipper JONES headed home the equaliser on the 60-minute mark, rising highest to head home Cotterill’s right wing corner.
Bennett, who had replaced Duffy just before the goal, then saw a curling effort bound for the far corner deflected wide as the home side turned the screw.
Blackpool weathered the storm but it was Rovers who were enjoying the better of possession and territory as the contest entered the final quarter.
Quinn became the latest player to go in the book for holding back Ince, who had lived to his reputation as one of the game’s brightest young prospects and continued to ask questions of the Doncaster defence.
Tempers were fraying on both sides with tackles flying in, leading to a few handbags when Furman found himself on the end of a late tackle.
Paynter replaced Coppinger with ten minutes remaining, immediately latching onto a knockdown but blazing over the bar.
Rovers, and Quinn, were then breathing a huge sigh of relief on 85 minutes when a ghastly error from the full back allowed in Ince but he placed his shot wide of the goal with only Turnbull to beat.
But just minutes later the Tangerines were ahead, in almost identical fashion to how Rovers had equalised.
MACKENZIE rose tallest at the back post to head home Ince’s right wing corner and break Doncaster hearts.
To add insult to injury INCE then made it 3-1 deep into stoppage time, curling home into an empty net from 60 yards with Turnbull stranded after going up for a corner.
Rovers team: 1 Turnbull, 2 Quinn, 14 Khumalo, 5 Jones, 3 Husband, 4 Furman, 19 Wellens, 11 Cotterill, 7 Duffy, 26 Coppinger, 9 Brown.
Subs: 13 Maxted, 15 Wakefield, 12 McCullough, 18 Keegan, 23 Bennett, 6 Syers, 8 Paynter
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