IPSWICH Town completed their first-ever league double over Doncaster in last night’s return at the Keepmoat.
Rovers may have felt that they were hard done by when coming away empty-handed from a 3-2 defeat at Portman Road last month, but they can have no complaints about last night’s result.
Their injury-hit team were simply routed by the Blues.
Rovers suffered a double blow earlier in the day when both leading scorer Billy Sharp and skipper Brian Stock pulled out. Spurs’ loanee Ryan Mason also failed a late fitness test on a thigh injury.
With James Hayter and Steve Brooker also ruled out, and Waide Fairhurst on loan at Hereford, Rovers were forced to play midfielders James Coppinger and Dean Shiels as an emergency strike force.
Coppinger and John Oster were both prominent for Rovers in the opening minutes, during which time midfielder Paul Keegan was just beaten to a through ball at the near post by keeper Marton Fulop.
The first real chance fell to Town’s highly-rated teen Connor Wickham, who should have done better on the edge of the six-yard box on 11 minutes. Rovers keeper Gary Woods had been kept bust dealing with numerous back passes in the first 20 minutes but he showed good composure.
Oster shot just wide of the near post from 20 yards out on 23 minutes after running at the Ipswich defence.
Town took the lead on 25 minutes when Rovers defender Sam Hird scored an own goal trying to head clear from about 12 yards out - the ball looping over Woods’ head.
Jason Scotland then had a goalbound shot on the half-hour blocked for a corner.
Coppinger showed good footwork to go past three defenders after cutting in from the right.
Town doubled their lead on 34 minutes - Lee Martin setting up Colin Healy, who picked his spot with an angled shot from about 12 yards.
It was going to take something special for injury-hit Rovers to salvage a result, but they continued to work hard and play with enthusiasm.
James Chambers saw his close-range deflected shot go just inches wide of the left-hand post.
But Town hammered another nail into Rovers’ coffin on 42 minutes when Wickham scored from close range after Woods could only punch Healy’s angled shot away.
Coppinger tried his luck with a long-range shot on 45 minutes but Fulop had it covered all the way.
Rovers started the second half with Wayne Thomas, who hasn’t played this year, on for Chambers.
Left-back George Friend, who has been one of Rovers most consistent players in recent games, showed good pace to get back and deny Martin a shooting chance after he had given Thomas the slip. Mark Wilson then struck wide with a 25 yarder on 55 minutes.
Wickham made it 4-0 on 61 minutes when shooting home through a crowded goalmouth from the edge of the area.
Town added a fifth through defender Gareth McAuley four minute later – a goal that resulted in a number of home fans heading for the exits.
Rovers gave recent signing Ryan Burge his first taste of Championship football on 70 minutes, replacing Shiels.
Ipswich defender Damien Delaney fired into the side netting with an angled shot on 81 minutes.
Keegan was twice denied a late consolation goal in the 88th minute with two fine saves in quick succession.
Wickham completed the scoring with a 90th minute penalty after he had been fouled by Hird.