Swindon Town 2 Doncaster Rovers 0: Obika double plunges Rovers closer to League One drop zone
There can be no doubt that Rovers are deeply embroiled in a relegation battle after falling to defeat at Swindon Town.
A much-improved performance against Millwall on Saturday raised hopes the battle at the bottom would not engulf Darren Ferguson’s side for too much longer.
But a brace from Jonathan Obika saw them fall to defeat to a Swindon side rapidly rising away from danger.
And to make matters worse they finished the game with ten men after Richard Chaplow was sent off for a second yellow card with 13 minutes to go.
Swindon boss Luke Williams warned against any complacency towards Rovers in his programme notes before the game.
“Tonight’s visitors are a team that are capable of far more than their league position would suggest,” he wrote.
It is a statement that is certainly true but the times when they have shown that capability have been all too rare over the last two months.
At Swindon they were certainly not as poor as they have been during their slump down the table.
But after a fifth defeat in six matches - coming on another matchday when plenty of their rivals at the bottom picked up points - means there will be scant consolation from whatever the manner of the performance turned in.
Rovers pressed well from the start, forcing the hosts into plenty of errors.
But they could not maintain their strong early work and Swindon began to find the gaps with quick, inventive play.
It was on the break however where Rovers were so ruthlessly torn apart by the Robins with one-time transfer target Obika emerging as their chief tormentor.
Rovers were indebted to Thorsten Stuckmann for keeping the score down. Swindon could easily have been two or three goals up before they opened the scoring.
They battled well but Swindon were operating on a different level and looked all too comfortable in the main. The lack of a scoring threat is a major concern and they struggled to threaten their hosts until the game was gone.
It is something that must be rectified quickly, particularly with the mammoth tie with fellow strugglers Shrewsbury Town coming up this weekend.
Once Swindon began to find the gaps, they looked very dangerous and much more like the side that reached the play-off final last season.
Obika’s backheel sent Ellis Iandolo galloping through only for Stuckmann to tip over the bar.
From the subsequent corner, Drissa Traore smashed a low effort from the edge of the box which the big German parried away. And moments later Iandolo dinked in to Obika whose volley Stuckmann somehow clawed over.
Mitchell Lund had a glorious chance to put Rovers ahead but he blasted well over the bar from 15 yards.
Swindon again went close when Nicky Ajose’s free kick fell to James Sendells-White who dragged a shot just wide. But they took the lead in first half stoppage time.
Rovers were awarded a corner despite the ball clearly cannoning out off Grant. But it turned out to be an unfortunate decision.
Swindon broke quickly from the corner and Bradley Barry clipped in a superb cross which Michael Doughty met with a looping header before Obika darted in to make sure the ball crossed the line.
Swindon almost doubled their advantage straight after half time. A wonderful pass split the Rovers defence and saw Ajose glide into the box only to see his attempted flick past Stuckmann tipped wide.
Rovers began to enjoy some success in the opposition half after the bold introduction of Lynden Gooch for Harry Middleton and it took a stunning fingertip save from Lawrence Vigouroux to keep out a piledriver from Chaplow.
But again they were caught on the break as Swindon doubled the lead.
Obika raced onto a long clearance, beating Luke McCullough for pace and power as he marched into the box and clipped the ball past Stuckmann.
Gooch should quickly have pulled a goal back for Rovers as he broke clear but his attempt to slot the ball under Vigouroux saw the Swindon keeper save with his legs.
Rovers had some rather tame attempts in the dying stages but with Chaplow dismissed, Swindon looked all too comfortable.
And Rovers are far from that heading into the final 13 games of the campaign.
Swindon: Vigouroux, Barry, Sendles-White, N Thompson (Rodgers 84), Turnbull, Ormonde-Ottewill, Traore, Doughty (L Thompson 65), Iandolo (Robert 62), Ajose, Obika. Subs not used: Belford, Balmy, Marshall, Cooke
Rovers: Stuckmann, Lund (Stewart 71), Alcock, McCullough, Taylor-Sinclair, Evina, Chaplow, Middleton (Gooch 54), Grant, Williams (MacKenzie 80), Tyson. Subs not used: Marosi, Butler, Davies, Mandeville.
Referee: Nicholas Kinseley (Essex)
Attendance: 6,556 (159 away)