Sharp ploughs a lone furrow for Rovers

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DONCASTER Rovers suffered their first pre-season defeat against Carlisle United at Brunton Park.

DONCASTER Rovers suffered their first pre-season defeat against Carlisle United at Brunton Park.

Rovers fielded a strong XI in the first half and a completely different line up in the second.

They made a bright start with Kyle Bennett shooting wide and James Coppinger (twice) and John Oster had shots saved by former Rovers’ keeper Adam Collin in the first 15 minutes.

The home team’s first real chance fell to Francois Zoko on 25 minutes. But under pressure from a defender and slightly off balance, he lifted the ball straight into Sullivan’s hands from eight yards.

Billy Sharp, who scored the winner in midweek at Mansfield, only half hit the ball which allowed Collin to make an easy collection.

Only the woodwork denied Carlisle a goal from Matty Robson’s left-wing cross - Craig Curran hitting the post with his header and then the bar rescuing Rovers from the rebound.

Robson forced another save from Sullivan before Coppinger did well to clear Welsh’s goal bound shot.

Rovers carved out a couple of chances - Bennett shooting wide from a corner and Sharp getting an angled shot on target after being set-up by Tommy Spurr.

But it was United who broke the deadlock on 44 minutes. Sullivan could only punch a cross away as far as Thirlwell, who knocked it back in for Curran to stab the ball home from close range.

Rovers had played some good football in the first half but were not consistent and with the midfield being called upon to help out in defence at times, Sharp didn’t get the best of service in his lone role up front.

Rovers turned out a new eleven for the second half, with Gary Woods, Sam Hird and James Baxendale being the only signed players with the remainder of the team made up of eight trialists - three of whom were new faces.

Rovers again made a lively start to the half, but the Cumbrians again came back into the game and gave as good as they got.

Most of the trialists did enough to merit another outing, but with more of the established players around them.

Rovers: (first half) Sullivan, Dumbuya, Naylor, Friend, Spurr; Coppinger, Gillett, Bennett, Oster, Hayter; Sharp.

Second half: G Woods, Hird, Baxendale, Bouhenna, Deeney, Gallagher, Radford, Vine, plus three unnamed trialists.