Doncaster Rovers 2 Leicester 1: Match Report

Herita Ilunga and giles Barnes battle ata corner
Herita Ilunga and giles Barnes battle ata corner
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DONCASTER Rovers could find it even more difficult to hold on to top scorer Billy Sharp next month after his second half brace secured his side their first home win over the Foxes since the mid-50s.

Sharp showed just why he is reportedly interesting several Championship clubs, and possibly the odd Premier Division side, as he scored twice in three minutes to turn the game on its head.

billy sharp celebrates the winner

billy sharp celebrates the winner

“If he keeps banging the goals in and winning us games then eventually someone will come in and put an offer in,” said Rovers’ boss Dean Saunders, who joked: “I think I’ll turn my phone off!”

Before the first of Sharp’s double, the Foxes looked to be on their way to a second victory in three visits to the Keepmoat.

They had gone in front after 38 minutes with a well-taken goal by former England striker David Nugent.

Paul Konchesky played a long ball down the left and Steve Howard let it run to Nugent, who produced a clinical finish to beat Gary Woods, starting for the first time since Saunders took over in September.

Woods can feel satisfied with his efforts given his lack of games - particularly the finger-tip save he made at 0-0 to deny Howard’s header - though he will be the first to admit that he could have done better with a couple of crosses.

Rival keeper Kasper Schmeichel had not been troubled until the first of Sharp’s goals despite a hard-working display by Rovers. After an indifferent start to the season at home, Rovers are now becoming harder to beat and they have picked up seven points in their last three games at the Keepmoat.

If they can continue in such home form in the second half of the season, they shouldn’t have too much difficulty in ending the season with the 13 or so victories which Saunders thinks will be good enough for them to stay up.

Rovers remain in the bottom three but they could give their supporters a belated Christmas present on Boxing Day by climbing out of the relegation zone were they to beat Burnley at Turf Moor and other results go their way. What makes Rovers’ revival all the more remarkable is that it comes against a backdrop of mounting injuries with more than a dozen currently on the treatment table.

The figure includes striker El-Hadji Diouf, midfielder Herold Goulon and defender Pascal Chimbonda.

Chimbonda and Diouf are both expected to be fit for the trip to Turf Moor but it is not a foregone conclusion that both will start.

James O’Connor is ending what he regards as a disappointing year on a high note and he again formed part of an impressive back-four which Saunders may be reluctant to change.

Marc-Antoine Fortune’s place would look to be most at risk now that Diouf is fit but it would be hard on the West Brom loanee were he to be relegated to the bench.

He had arguably his best game in a Rovers’ shirt and got through a lot of work in the first hour without much reward before helping to set-up the equaliser. It was his cross from the left which provided Sharp with the opportunity to head home from the edge of the six-yard box, to make it 1-1.

No sooner had the cheers died down than Sharp struck again.

This time it was skipper Brian Stock who helped set up the chance.The classy midfielder was a dominant force, just as he was in the win over leaders Southampton in the last home game, with his intelligent distribution helping Rovers to force the pace.

Former midfield partner Richie Wellens, who captained Leicester in the absence of another former Rovers’ favourite Matt Mills, can claim to have been the more influential of the two in the first half, but Stock was easily the more prominent in the second. It was the quality of his ball into the box which provided Sharp with the chance to make such a spectacular finish.

Leicester have spent a lot of money on players since the end of last season and with the quality they have in their side they were never going to give up without a fight and Rovers rode their luck at times in the final 20 minutes.But there is a growing belief and togetherness in the Rovers’ side and they battled hard to deny Nigel Pearson’s side.