DONCASTER Rovers marched back into the top six of League One after beating a spirited Carlisle United side at Brunton Park.
Rovers looked all set to become the fourth side to put four goals past the Cumbrians at Brunton Park as the stormed into an early 2-0 lead, but it didn’t turn out that way and they were forced on to the back foot for long periods.
Rovers had named an unchanged team.
But their hosts - beaten 4-1 at home against Leyton Orient at the weekend - showed three four changes to their starting line-up with under-pressure manager Greg Abbott throwing teenagers Bradley Potts, Mark Beck and David Symington into the fray.
The game got off to a lively start with both teams looking to knock the ball about though neither keeper was troubled in the opening 10 minutes.
United keeper Adam Collin did well to tip Iain Hume’s goal bound shot away for a corner.
Skipper Rob Jones got on the end of Dave Cotterill’s cross and gave Adam Collin no chance with a thumping header.
Only the foot of the near post denied Hume doubling Rovers’ lead within a minute.
Martin Woods tested the United keeper, who needed two attempts to gather the ball, with a 25 yarder.
Cotterill made it 2-0 on 18 minutes with a lofted shot over the keeper from just outside the box.
Cotterill got a 25 yard free-kick on target but Collin was well placed to collect.
Gary Woods had to back-pedal to keep out a speculative long-range shot by Symington, which suddenly dipped towards goal.
It hadn’t been all one-way traffic, but with Jones again dominant in the air in the box, the Cumbrians found it difficult to turn pressure into chances.
Had either of the two Doncaster players at the far post been able to get a touch to Cotterill’s shot across goal on 35 minutes, it would have been 3-0.
Jones, who took a knock for his troubles, headed a dangerous-looking free-kick by James Berrett away for a 40th minute corner.
United finished the half strongly and Woods had to get down quickly to smother a header by striker Beck from a right-wing cross.
Martin Woods tried to catch Collin out with a long-range effort with the last kick of the half.
Rovers started the second half with Shelton Martis on for the inspirational Jones, sometimes too brave for his own good.
United continued where they had left off before the break and keeper Woods was kept busy in the opening minutes.
He had to be on his toes on 56 minutes to tip what looked to be a harmless-looking punt by left-back Chris Chantler from the halfway line away for a corner following a high bounce
Watford loanee Joe Garner had the chance to punish some hesitant defending, but shot wide when well placed.
Rovers had lost much of their earlier attacking sparkle since their second goal and they couldn’t afford to relax despite their two-goal cushion.
That was even more the case on 65 minutes following a superb goal by 19 year-old Symington from a 30 yard free- kick.
Rovers boss Dean Saunders brought big striker Chris Brown on for Hume on 68 minutes in a bid to produce more firepower in the final third.
The Cumbrians, who had certainly produced a much-improved display, looked more likely to score than concede at this change.
But when centre-back Tommy Spurr, who had taken over the captaincy from Jones, beat Collin with a back header from Cotterill’s free-kick to claim his first goal for the club, the game was up.
Brown, who had time and space, shot wide of the far post from the edge of the six-yard box two minutes later with only Collin to beat.
CARLISLE UNITED: Collin 7 Simek 6 Livesey 7 Edwards 6 Chantler 6 Symington 7 Berrett 7 Potts 7 Robson 6 Garner * 6 Beck 7 Substitutes Gillespie McGovern Welsh Noble Todd McGinty Higginbotham *80
ROVERS: G Woods 7 Griffin Jones *6 Spurr 7 Husband 7 Cotterill 7 Keegan 7 Harper 6 Martin Woods 7 Hume **7Paynter ***6 Substitutes Martis 6 *46 Syers ***75 Brown **68 Blake Michael Woods Maxted Ball
Goals: Carlisle: Symington (65). Rovers: Jones (14) Cotterill (18) Spurr (76).
Referee: Mark Brown (East Yorks)