DONCASTER Rovers were made to dig deep for a third successive pre-season win over Grimsby Town at Blundell Park.
Rovers welcomed back James Coppinger, James O’Connor and Tommy Spurr, who all missed Saturday’s 4-2 win at Cleethorpes Town, to their starting line-up. Rovers made a confident start and took the lead on eight minutes when David Cotterill crossed the ball from the left and fellow new boy David Syers netted at the far post.
Rovers doubled their lead on 14 minutes. Kyle Bennett set Cotterill away and he ran on into the box before having his heels clipped from behind by right-back Sam Hatton.
Striker Chris Brown gave keeper James McKeown no chance from the resulting spot kick. The Mariners mounted their first real pressure of the game without troubling keeper Gary Woods.
Rovers went close to a third goal on 27 minutes, Brown heading wide at the far post after Spurr had pushed on down the left at pace and crossed the ball. Rovers’ fans in the decent-sized crowd didn’t have to wait long to cheer a third goal, however.
Coppinger picked out Brown in the box with a byline cross less than a minute later and he was brought down from behind by Hatton just as he was about to shoot from ten yards out. Cotterill drilled the resulting spot kick low into the right-hand corner.
It had been an impressive first half-hour and Rovers’ boss Dean Saunders must have been pleased with what he had seen.
Keegan just cleared the bar with a long-range effort as Rovers continued to force the pace. McKeown had to be on his toes to keep out a Bennett header.
The Mariners had the ball in the back of the net from a free-kick in the dying seconds of the half but the score was disallowed following a foul on keeper Woods.
Rovers made four changes at the start of the second half, one of whom was summer signing Robbie Blake who was making his debut.
The Mariners came more into the game in the opening 15 minutes of the half and both skipper George Friend and O’Connor needed to pull off crucial tackles.
Jordan Ball and trialist Amari Morgan-Smith had Rovers’ best efforts on goal in the first 20 minutes. Dale Southwell opened Grimsby’s account with a 68th minute header. Southwell, who had gone close seconds earlier, then headed home from close range on 75 minutes.
ROVERS: G Woods, O’Connor, Friend, Wakefield, Spurr, Cotterill, Syers, Keegan, Coppinger, Bennett, Brown. Subs (all played): Blake, Stock, Morgan-Smith, M Woods, Ball, McDermott, McCormick.