Analysis: Doncaster Rovers hit six of the best in blistering comeback at Ebbsfleet

Tommy Rowe scored twice in Rovers' win at Ebbsfleet
Tommy Rowe scored twice in Rovers' win at Ebbsfleet
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No Football League side wants to slip on the FA Cup banana skin.

Well Rovers certainly stumbled but recovered emphatically to boot the skin straight into the bin and coast into the second round.

There were worrying signs as they crumbled in a two minute spell to fall two goals down to National League Ebbsfleet after struggling to find fluency in possession for the previous half hour.

But the manner in which they rolled with the punches and fired back with such force to score six can only be admired.

That Ebbsfleet finished with ten men after Chris Bush was sent off was a mere footnote. The game was done and dusted by then.

By the end, Rovers had six goals and four goalscorers. James Coppinger and Tommy Rowe both scored twice - a major positive given their newly advanced roles in the impressive 3-4-3 system.

And at the conclusion they had plenty of praise for their resolve. A side that had been criticised for mental fragility had shown they had strength in abundance.

They needed it after finding themselves in the embarrassing situation of going two goals down.

And Ebbsfleet were gifted both goals. First Ian Lawlor inexplicably wrestled Myles Weston to the ground after failing to claim a high ball, allowing Danny Kedwell to finish confidently from the spot.

And Rovers were sliced open with ease as Luke Coulson charged onto a flick on and powered a shot under Lawlor.

Though rattled initially, Rovers settled themselves and hit back with their own two minute blast in first half stoppage time.

First, Rowe turned smartly after meeting Matty Blair’s deflected cross and finished from close range.

Blair was also involved in the equaliser, playing in Rodney Kongolo whose shot was saved but parried only as far out as John Marquis who slotted into an empty net.

Rovers dominated the second half and were in front just seven minutes after the break.

Coppinger received the ball on the corner of the box and drilled low, with a wicked deflection off Kenny Clark leaving goalkeeper Nathan Ashmore helpless as the ball looped over his head.

Though in control, it took until 12 minutes from time to put the game to bed.

Blair received a smart one-two and played in Jordan Houghton who fired home at the second attempt.

Ebbsfleet lost a man when Bush clashed hard with Coppinger, receiving his second yellow card ten minutes from time.

It became a landslide as Rovers quickly added a fifth.

Though heading out of the box, Marquis was clipped and referee Collins pointed to the spot. Coppinger took the spot kick with a cheeky Panenka-like dink over Ashmore.

The icing on the cake was the sixth with five minutes to go as Rowe turned superbly on the edge of the box and drilled into the bottom corner with one swift move.


Arguably the biggest positive from Saturday was seeing Rovers sticking to the game plan despite the adversity they faced.

Barring a five minute spell following Ebbsfleet’s first goal, they remained resolute in their determination to play aggressive passing football.

And it worked as they overwhelmed and outclassed their hosts in a blistering second half performance.

But that was built on the determination they showed at the end of the first half to get back level.

There was no panic, no flinging the ball forward without thought, no losing of heads.

And that shows a growing belief and confidence in what they are doing right now.

The success of the 3-4-3 system has played a huge part in that. It provides plenty of stability but, more importantly, allows them to get forward in numbers.

Pleasing to see is that Mathieu Baudry is given license to show his quality on the ball and push high up the pitch with Jordan Houghton and the wing backs happy to drop in.

It is a system that is delivering the goods and the players clearly believe in it too.


Saturday’s victory made it five wins and a draw from the last eight for Rovers - not bad for a side who were said to be struggling not so long ago.

It seems they are finally gathering momentum, largely because of a growing confidence that the current system is delivering improvement.

Stringing together a similar run of form purely in League One is the next step in the progression of this side.

Picking up back-to-back league wins with victory in Saturday’s derby with Rotherham would be just the ticket.