Doncaster 21 Barrow Raiders 18: 12-man Dons secure entertaining win

Mark Castle scores for the Dons
Mark Castle scores for the Dons

The Dons defied the odds to inflict Barrow’s first League One defeat of the season in an entertaining encounter at the Keepmoat Stadium.

Gary Thornton’s men, who were leading 6-0 at the time, had prop Connor Scott sent-off on 26 minutes for throwing several punches at Barrow stand-off Jamie Dallimore.

There will have been quite a few home fans who will have feared this would cost the Dons the game given how well the visitors had started.

But the team dug deep and showed the sort of spirit and commitment they will need to produce throughout the season if they are to return to the Championship at the first attempt in what is looking to be a competitive league.

The game marked the long-awaited debut of stand-off Jordan Howden and, despite looking a little rusty at times, he did enough to warrant coach Thornton’s faith.

Half-back Brad Delaney also caught the eye in the backs along with centre Liam Welham and full-back Tom Carr.

Props Mark Castle and Makali Aizue both ran strongly up front. Castle rewarded a spell of pressure when forcing his way over from close range on seven minutes. Carr added the extras.

Barrow continued to look dangerous on the attack and but for some poor finishing and excellent defence, would have opened their account earlier than centre Chris Hankinson’s 32nd minute try, converted by half-back Josh Ward.

The visitors had the chance to go in leading 8-6 but an injury time penalty sailed wide.

Centre Jason Tali gave the Dons’ hopes a huge boost when touching down from close range for a converted try within two minutes of the restart.

The home side opened up an 18-6 lead on 52 minutes when a wicked bounce wrong-footed the Barrow defence and led to Tali diving on to the loose ball over the line. Carr again added the extras.

Carr also found the target with a close-range penalty a couple of minutes later to leave the Cumbrians 14 points adrift.

But Barrow winger Lee Haney touched down out wide on the hour and Ward’s conversion cut the deficit to just eight points.

Carr pulled off a timely interception in his own 20 as Barrow threatened again.

Carr gave his side a bit more breathing space with a 72nd minute drop goal.

A 78th minute converted try by Anthony Bate, following some good support play, set-up a grandstand finish but the Dons hung on for their best result of the season.

Dons: Carr, Sheriff, Liam Welham, Tali, Doherty, Howden, Brad Delaney, Castle, Kesik, Aizue. Tonks. Foster, Matt Nicholson. Subs: James Delaney, Braham, Brad Nicholson, Scott.