MATCH REPORT: Doncaster Rovers 1 Burnley 0

Up and at 'em: George Friend in full flight for Doncaster Rovers as they beat visitors Burnley by a single goal at the Keepmoat Stadium last night.  Pictures: Steve Taylor
Up and at 'em: George Friend in full flight for Doncaster Rovers as they beat visitors Burnley by a single goal at the Keepmoat Stadium last night. Pictures: Steve Taylor
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DONCASTER Rovers checked their slide down the Championship table since the turn of the year with a home victory over Burnley.

An own goal by Burnley centre-back Michael Duff ended his side’s unbeaten record under new manager Eddie Howe and dashed their hopes of their first back-to-back Championship wins of the season.

It was Rovers’ first clean sheet since their 3-0 win over Scunthorpe United on New Year’s Day.

Rovers welcomed back influential skipper Brian Stock after a month on the sidelines with a calf injury.

With keeper Neil Sullivan failing a late fitness test on a shin injury, 20-year-old Gary Woods made his starting debut.

With Mark Wilson being ruled out with a thigh injury picked up in the club’s last game, former Bohemians’ star Paul Keegan started his first game for Rovers.

The Clarets fielded new signing from Swindon, free-scoring striker Charlie Austin.

The visitors made the early running and Woods would have been relieved that there wasn’t a Burnley player on hand to take advantage when he failed to hold on to Jack Cork’s low byline cross in the fifth minute.

John Oster, who lists Burnley as one of his former clubs, was well off the mark with a 25 yarder.

Rovers settled into their stride and started to knock the ball around.

But they found it hard to generate any real pressure on the Burnley defence and the Turf Moor side continued to look the more dangerous on attack.

James Coppinger went close to giving Rovers a 19th minute lead with a deflected 25 yarder that keeper Lee Grant did well to keep out at the expense of a corner.

Burnley failed to clear the danger from the resulting cross and the ball fell to defender James O’Connor on the edge of the box, but he shot wide of the left-hand post.

Rovers’ leading scorer Billy Sharp – who chose to move to the Keepmoat Stadium in the summer rather than Turf Moor after the two clubs had both met Sheffield United’s asking price – headed wide of the near post after getting on the end of a cross from the right.

Striker James Hayter, who scored the Rovers goal in the 1-1 draw at Turf Moor in November, shot into the side netting from close range after stretching to get on the end of a cross by Oster.

The lively Coppinger unleashed an angled shot from just inside the area only to see it blocked by left-back Danny Fox.

Rovers continued to edge the exchanges with Oster’s influence growing the longer the game went on.

Oster was way off target, though, with a 25 yarder following a set-piece from a 39th minute corner.

Burnley had found it harder to put real pressure on the Rovers’ goal for the last 20 minutes – testament to a much-improved Rovers defensive performance – and that was underlined by danger man Chris Eagles deciding to try his luck from over 25 yards out.

Hayter shot just wide of the far post with an angled shot from the edge of the area when Rovers next returned to the attack.

Hayter then had a shot cleared off the line in the 45th minute after the ball found its way to him after Coppinger had been denied.

Rovers had got well on top after being under pressure early on and Burnley were fortunate to still be on level terms at the break.

Rovers started the second half with Steve Brooker on for Hayter, who had shown up well in the first period.

Burnley midfielder Dean Marney put the ball into the back of the net but the flag was already up well before the shot crossed the line.

Jay Rodriguez almost hit the far corner flag when trying his luck with an angled 20 yarder, and later just cleared the crossbar following a good run and cross by right-back Tyrone Mears.

Rovers continued to defend well with centre-backs Sam Hird and O’Connor, in particular, showing up well.

Rovers took a deserved lead on the hour when Burnley centre-back Michael Duff headed past his own keeper trying to clear Coppinger’s cross into the box under pressure from Sharp.

Burnley made a change on 65 minutes, bringing on big striker Chris Iwelumo in place of Wade Elliott.

Had there been a better final ball into the box by Oster, Brooker could have added a second Doncaster goal in the 89th minute.