Match report: Doncaster Rovers 3 Notts County 1

Rovers celebrate as Andy Williams seals the game in stoppage time
Rovers celebrate as Andy Williams seals the game in stoppage time

James Coppinger inspired Doncaster Rovers to a come-from-behind win against Notts County and take them to within touching distance of League One.

The 36-year-old scored one and made another for Mathieu Baudry - and also oozed class throughout - as Rovers moved six points clear at the top and 16 points clear of fourth place with games fast running out.

James Coppinger wheels away with Tommy Rowe after netting for Rovers. Picture: Matt McLennan

James Coppinger wheels away with Tommy Rowe after netting for Rovers. Picture: Matt McLennan

County, unbeaten on their previous four visits to the Keepmoat Stadium, took the lead on 20 minutes through Richard Duffy and for periods of the first half looked like they would be a tough nut to crack.

The Magpies began the game in organised fashion, in an old-fashioned 4-4-2 formation.

But that structure allowed Coppinger to flourish in between the lines and Rovers recovered from a slow start to run out deserved winners. They added the gloss to the win in stoppage time courtesy of substitute Andy Williams.

Both sides registered an early attempt but neither were really able to assert themselves during the opening exchanges.

County midfielder Jorge Grant struck a shot wide after Matty Blair dallied in possession, while the best move of the game at the other end saw Alfie May deflect a Conor Grant cross just past the far post.

The visitors grabbed a lead out of nothing when Rovers failed to deal with a corner from the left and centre back Duffy reacted quickest to prod home from close range.

With the Magpies well-organised, and a bit too comfortable for Rovers’ liking, it was Coppinger who looked the likeliest in red and white to provide a spark.

It was Coppinger’s turn and cross which was just too high for the diminutive May.

As Rovers upped the ante towards the end of the half, it was Coppinger’s weaving run into the box that created an opening for Craig Alcock whose shot was blocked.

And two minutes before the break it was that man Coppinger who lashed home in clinical fashion from inside the box after a low cross from Blair.

The same theme continued after the re-start and in a matter of seconds Rovers were ahead when Coppinger’s perfectly floated cross from the left was headed home emphatically by Baudry.

The pendulum swung slightly just after the hour mark when Duffy headed a gilt-edged chance wide from point blank range.

And moments later his centre back partner Haydn Hollis did head home from a corner but the goal was disallowed for an infringement.

Coppinger took his leave to a well-deserved ovation as Darren Ferguson introduced Gary McSheffrey and also the more defensively minded Mitchell Lund for Blair.

Kevin Nolan threw on Shola Ameobi and former Rovers striker Jonathan Forte in an attempt to rescue a point.

But after sending goalkeeper Adam Collin up for a late corner, Rovers broke up field and Williams stroked into an empty net. This was Doncaster’s night.

Rovers: Lawlor, Blair (Lund 72), Butler, Baudry, Alcock, Mason, Rowe, Grant, Coppinger (McSheffrey 72), Marquis, May (Williams 88). Subs not used: Etheridge, Evina, Middleton, Longbottom.

Notts County: Collin, Tootle, Duffy, Hollis, Bolis, Grant, O’Connor, Milsom (Forte 79), Yeates (Hewitt 55), Smith (Ameobi 60), Campbell. Subs not used: Loach, Campbell, Clackstone, Dickinson.

Referee: Nigel Miller (County Durham)

Attendance: 5,760