Doncaster Rovers end fair old wait for league win with loanee star of the show

It's felt like a lifetime since Doncaster Rovers last won a league match.
Rovers celebrate the opening goal against Tranmere. (Picture Howard Roe/AHPIX LTD)Rovers celebrate the opening goal against Tranmere. (Picture Howard Roe/AHPIX LTD)
Rovers celebrate the opening goal against Tranmere. (Picture Howard Roe/AHPIX LTD)

Okay, so it's technically only 40 days but this 2-1 victory over a stubborn Tranmere Rovers side was much-needed and, in the end, well-earned.

Rovers entered this clash on a sorry run of just one win in their last ten league outings. Despite what he said in the build-up to the contest, Grant McCann will surely have been feeling the heat - and it would have ramped up plenty had they suffered defeat here.

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Thankfully, a determined performance delivered three vital points as they moved ten points clear of the relegation picture.

McCann shuffled his pack slightly with Luke Molyneux and Matthew Craig restored to the line-up with Tommy Rowe and Jay McGrath sacrificed - neither made the cut for the bench.

In what was a bitty opening exchange, the hosts got the breakthrough thanks to a quality piece of play in the 15th minute.

Hakeeb Adelakun cut inside from the left and curled in a lovely, dangerous ball that was met by the head of Joe Ironside. It only needed the slightest glance and the top scorer duly applied it, with visiting stopper Luke McGhee rooted to his spot.

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Tranmere then showed their capabilities, albeit in fits and spurts, with the lively Rob Apter jinking down the right and teeing it up for Regan Hendry to slice a shot narrowly wide of Thimothee Lo-Tutala's right-hand post.

Richard Wood then diverted a dangerous centre behind for a corner before Thimothee Lo-Tutala tipped a Connor Jennings effort behind.

Tom Anderson was introduced at half-time as a replacement for Joseph Olowu - his first appearance since Boxing Day - who took a knock towards the latter stages of the first half.

Tranmere began the second half with plenty of purpose and after a couple of half-chances they levelled matters up on the hour mark. Substitute Josh Hawkes had barely been on the field two minutes when he cut inside and bent an effort beyond Lo-Tutala.

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In recent weeks Doncaster might have gone into their shells but it took them less than five minutes to roar back in front.

Owen Bailey played a fine through-ball that Adelakun ran onto and after rounding McGhee he gleefully tapped into the empty net. It capped a fine display from the Lincoln loanee.

Tranmere were still a clear danger, as Harvey Saunders showed when he leathered a volley straight against the post not long after.

But they wilted as the game wore on and aside from the odd sniff, the hosts were good value. Substitute Kyle Hurst could have made the margin of victory more comfortable in the latter stages but it mattered not. McCann's men have rediscovered that winning feeling - at last.

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Rovers: Lo-Tutala, Sterry, Olowu (Anderson 46), Wood, Senior, Molyneux, Bailey, Craig, Adelakun (Hurst 74), Waters (Biggins 64), Ironside.

Unused subs: Jones, Maxwell, Broadbent, Goodman.

Referee: John Busby.