Match report: Doncaster Rovers 1 Stevenage 0

An own goal saw Rovers break down stubborn resistance from Stevenage to kick off 2017 with a win.

Monday, 2nd January 2017, 3:58 pm
Updated Monday, 9th January 2017, 12:02 pm
Doncaster Rovers v Stevenage
Doncaster Rovers v Stevenage

Though they dominated possession for so much of the game, Rovers struggled to break the deadlock and lacked a killer touch in the final third.

But they finally found a way through the Stevenage brick wall six minutes from time.

The redebuting Conor Grant darted into the box and drilled low. Stevenage defender Fraser Franks slid in to block the effort but bundled the ball into his own goal.

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Darren Ferguson made three changes to the side that started in the draw with Mansfield Town.

A second debut was handed to Conor Grant, re-signed on loan from Everton earlier in the day, while James Coppinger returned from suspension and Harry Middleton was handed a start.

Andy Williams and Craig Alcock dropped to the bench while Liam Mandeville missed out entirely due to a thigh issue picked up at Mansfield.

Ferguson deployed his side in a 3-5-2 system with Coppinger playing just off John Marquis.

Rovers started very well, showing a brilliant range of passing and dominated possession for much of the first half.

It was the type of football they had lacked in the previous two games but they continued to struggle to craft clear cut chances.

They had one of their best opportunities after just six minutes when Marquis met a fine cross from Tommy Rowe but could little power into his header as he turned it on goal.

Grant found the side-netting with an excellent free kick routine from 25 yards moments later.

Marquis again tested Stevenage keeper Jamie Jones' reactions as he darted in and stabbed Middleton's low cross but struggled for power once more.

Rovers had a glorious chance as they broke away rapidly three on one only for Grant to be clipped from behind.

Matty Blair went for the near post after cutting in from the left but Jones was more than equal to it.

Rovers' tempo dropped as the half wore on and the swift movement of earlier in the game disappeared.

Middleton managed a fine pot shot however that gave Jones his biggest test but the visiting keeper stretched up to claim from his top corner.

Stevenage saved their only shot of the opening half for the final minute when Dale Gorman blasted over from just inside the box.

Grant closed the half with a fine touch and volley from the edge of the box but again there was little power or direction to trouble Jones.

Rovers started the second period with real purpose and quickly had the visitors pinned back into their own half.

They twice went close to opening the scoring in quick succession within the first few minutes.

First, Mathieu Baudry had a looping header cleared off the line, and in the same passage of play, Middleton struck the bar via a deflection with a volley.

Passing play was excellent from Rovers but they were guilty of overplaying in the final third on several occasions.

One such passage of play came to a close when Marquis hooked wide from the edge of the box.

Grant was millimetres away from breaking the deadlock with a low drive from 15 yards which deflected just wide.

But the deadlock was finally broken six minutes from time.

Grant latched onto a loose ball in the box and smashed low from 15 yards with Franks sliding in to block only to turn it past his own keeper at the near post.

Stevenage pushed out for the first real time in the game, looking for the equaliser.

The closest they came saw substitute Charlie Lee power a header on goal, only for Baudry to flick over from on the line.

Rovers: Marosi, Baudry, Butler Mason, Blair, Middleton (Williams 67), Houghton, Grant, Rowe, Coppinger (Keegan 90), Marquis. Subs not used: Jones, Wright, Alcock, Beestin, May.

Stevenage: Jones, Henry, King, Franks, Ntlhe, Kennedy (McAnuff 73), Gorman, Tonge, Pett, Godden (Liburd 81), Walker (Lee 63). Subs not used: Day, Schumacher, Cowans, Johnson.

Referee: Mark Brown (East Yorkshire)

Attendance: 5,604 (169)