Match report: Grimsby Town 2 Doncaster Rovers 3

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ROVERS showed their good and bad as they escaped from Blundell Park with victory in their second pre-season friendly.

A first half performance packed with energy and vigour was followed by a second period that will be remembered for defensive frailty as the hosts roared back.

A David Syers scrambled effort plus a pair of penalties from Chris Brown and David Cotterill gave Rovers a 3-0 lead at the break.

But the Mariners showed a great deal of fight after the break and grabbed two goals through lively substitute Dayle Southwell.

Rovers held on but Dean Saunders was given plenty to think about on the journey back down the M180.

The game was just a couple of minutes old when Rovers took the lead.

Cotterill’s deep corner found Syers who managed to force the ball home from close range at the far post, getting clattered into the net himself the process.

Rovers’ early play was full of energy and they showcased zippy passing and quick movement of the ball on a slick surface at a rain-battered Blundell Park.

Such high-tempo play brought the second goal.

Kyle Bennett put a well-weighted pass into the box for Cotterill who was tripped by Sam Hatton and the referee showed no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

Brown stepped up confidently and stroked the ball past Town keeper James McKeown from the spot.

Rovers continued to have by the far the better of the play and restricted the hosts to mainly speculative shots from the edge of the box that failed to draw Gary Woods into the game.

And Rovers added to their lead with as soft a penalty as you are likely to see.

Brown was clattered by Hatton and Cotterill stepped up to slot into the bottom corner with McKeown failing to get enough behind his hand to the ball.

Rovers relished being afforded space from the hosts.

Full backs James O’Connor and Tommy Spurr bombed forward with regularity while the banks of midfielders and forwards changed positions frequently.

Chances proved less frequent as the half wore on with Paul Keegan chancing his arm from 30 yards with a screamer that flew a foot over the bar.

Grimsby had the ball in the back of the net before the end of the half but the goal was ruled out with Woods clattered by towering centre half Shaun Pearson.

Saunders did not make a raft of changes at half time with just four men introduced – Brian Stock, Martin Woods, Amari Morgan Smith and Robbie Blake.

The hosts emerged from the break with renewed vigour, despite Rob Scott making just one change.

George Friend and O’Connor were both called on for last ditch tackles to deny shots from Craig Disley and Joe Colbeck as Grimsby surged forward at any given opportunity.

Rovers did manage to slow down the play with some neat passing play.

The centre of this was Stock, demonstrating his ability to dictate the pace of a game from the middle of the park, as he did so well in the first friendly at Cleethorpes.

One such slick passage saw a chance created for triallist Morgan Smith who cut inside on the right of the area and drilled a low shot which McKeown saved well with his legs.

Substitute Jordan Ball almost capped a counter-attack he started as he displayed tremendous energy.

Ball cleared the ball from his own six yard line and sprinted the full length of the pitch to meet Robbie Blake’s pass but his shot from the edge of the area went harmlessly wide.

Then came the Grimsby fight back, largely down to substitute Southwell.

The forward worked hard to find space and could not have asked for more as he got his side on the scoresheet.

Southwell was left unmarked and powered a header past Woods from six yards out on 67 minutes.

Six minutes later, the Mariners netted again through Southwell.

Woods spilled a deep corner under pressure from Pearson and the ball fell kindly for the unmarked Southwell who looped a cross into the far corner.

The game petered out somewhat in the later stages but Rovers had a late fright when a shot flew past the far post in the final minute.

Rovers: First half: Gary Woods, James O’Connor, Liam Wakefield, George Friend, Tommy Spurr, David Cotterill, Paul Keegan, David Syers, James Coppinger, Chris Brown, Kyle Bennett.

Second half: Gary Woods, James O’Connor, George Friend (Jake McCormick), Liam Wakefield, Tommy Spurr, James Coppinger (Greg McDermott), Brian Stock, Martin Woods, Amari Morgan Smith. Robbie Blake, Chris Brown (Jordan Ball).