Match report: Barnet 1 Doncaster Rovers 3

A stunning 13 minute period saw Rovers dramatically turn a tough game on its head and maintain their cushion at the top of League Two with a win at on-form Barnet.
Barnet 1 Doncaster Rovers 3Barnet 1 Doncaster Rovers 3
Barnet 1 Doncaster Rovers 3

Rovers were struggling to cope with an incredibly energetic Barnet side who pressed forward in numbers, led by the battering ram of 17-goal forward John Akinde who gave them the lead following a mistake by Niall Mason.

But a timely equaliser and ruthless attacking play saw them wrestle control in devastating fashion.

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James Coppinger grabbed the equaliser and netted a sublime second, sandwiching a scrambled finish by John Marquis as Rovers went from 1-0 down in the 18th minute to 3-1 up by the 31st.

From there, Rovers looked incredibly comfortable in possession and were in command against a side which had won six of their previous eight games to surge into play-off contention.

New signing Ian Lawlor was handed an immediate debut between the sticks after joining from Manchester City on Friday, replacing the injured Marko Marosi.

The other change made by Darren Ferguson saw Andy Williams return to the starting XI in place of Craig Alcock with Rovers switching back to the 4-4-2 diamond formation which has suited them well for much of the season.

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Lawlor had a tricky introduction to life as Rovers keeper. He was almost caught out by Akinde just three minutes in when he took a heavy touch on a Mason backpass and saw his rushed clearance cannon off the towering forward.

And he fumbled his first real save, spilling a shot from distance only to reponse quickly and dive on the loose ball.

Niall Mason gifted Barnet the opener on 13 minutes. His backpass to Lawlor had not near enough power on it, allowing Akinde to nip in, round the keeper and slot into an empty net.

Rovers looked rattled by Barnet's impressive energy and heavy pressing but hit back just five minutes after falling behind.

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Matty Blair surged down the right wing and played inside to Coppinger who took a touch and rifled past Josh Vickers from 15 yards.

It was a goal that sparked Rovers to life and within 13 minutes they had remarkably opened up a cushion in the game.

It had taken a brilliant sliding tackle from Mason to ensure they stayed level. Akinde brushed off Andy Butler to go one-on-one with Lawlor who he rounded again, only for Mason to appear and nick away the ball on the sliding challenge before the shot.

But on 28 minutes Rovers were in front. A free kick into the box was tossed around with Vickers making several saves before Marquis bundled the ball over the line.

And three minutes later they found daylight.

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Jordan Houghton saw a pass into the box cut out only for the ball to roll to Coppinger who curled in a brilliant effort from the edge of the box.

Rovers looked so much more comfortable and assured, looking after the ball exceptionally well and looking a danger whenever they launched forward.

Vickers was called onto make saves from headers from Marquis and Andy Williams as Rovers threatened to extend their advantage.

The visitors looked incredibly comfortable after the break, snuffing out Barnet attacks before they had time to build and keeping possession well.

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Chances to extend the advantage were not plentiful nor gilt-edged.

Williams scuffed a volley over the bar on the hour and drew a smart stop from Vickers with another, while Marquis failed to pick out Coppinger with the follow up.

And Rowe smashed a shot over the bar from 15 yards.

It took Barnet until the 80th minute to threaten even the slightest hint of a comeback.

A smart free kick routine saw the ball roll through to Ricardo Santos who drilled a low shot but Lawlor raced out superbly to block and claim.

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A late debut off the bench for Alfie May was the icing on the cake of a good afternoon for Rovers who earned their fifth win in six matches.

Barnet: Vickers, H Taylor (Tutonda 74), Nelson, Santos, Johnson, J Taylor, Champion (Kyei 61), Vilhete, Weston, Campbell-Ryce (Akinola 61), Akinde. Subs not used: McKenzie-Lyle, Gambin, Muggleton, Nicholls.

Rovers: Lawlor, Blair, Baudry (Wright 85), Butler, Mason, Houghton, Grant, Rowe, Coppinger (Keegan 87), Marquis, Williams (May 88). Subs not used: Etheridge, Alcock, Middleton, Beestin.

Referee: John Brooks (Leicestershire)

Attendance: 2,582 (824 away)