Match report: Plymouth Argyle 2 Doncaster Rovers 0

Plymouth Argyle v Doncaster Rovers
Plymouth Argyle v Doncaster Rovers

James Coppinger was sent off as Doncaster Rovers were toppled off the top of League Two after a frustrating defeat at fellow promotion chasers Plymouth Argyle.

Coppinger saw red after grabbing - seemingly by the throat - Argyle keeper Luke McCormick, who gloated in the face of Liam Mandeville following a late penalty miss.

It only heaped frustration on Rovers who struggled to find their rhythm in the top of the table clash.

By the time Mandeville struck the outside of the post from the spot, Rovers found themselves two goals down.

A mistake from Andy Butler allowed Graham Carey in for a sublime finish before Jake Jervis gave the hosts a cushion from the penalty spot, giving Plymouth a first win in four attempts in the league.

Rovers failed to build on a strong start in a game where clear cut opportunities for either side proved hard to come by.

And they failed to score in a league game for the first time this season.

Darren Ferguson kept faith with the side that started in the 4-3 win over Stevenage a week earlier.

READ MORE Ferguson: We needed a bit more quality

Rovers made an excellent start, forcing the hosts back with strong pressing and probing passing.

They were close to going ahead inside the first two minutes. Niall Mason charged forward and pulled a ball back to Tommy Rowe who shot first time but straight at McCormick.

Plymouth delivered a warning on seven minutes when the unmarked Carey flicked a header over the bar from close range.

But Rovers continued to be the stronger, building attacks well, particularly down the flanks.

Plymouth enjoyed their own success in wide areas and Jordan Slew arguably should have done better when he met Connor Smith's cross only to scuff it at Marosi.

Coppinger was a lively presence for Rovers, often creating opportunities from nothing.

One superb cross caused havoc in the Plymouth back line with Yann Songo'o wildly sliced just wide and out for a corner.

It took a brilliant hooked clearance from Mathieu Baudry, heading back towards his own goal, to prevent Ryan Donaldson's cross from reaching danger.

In such an even contest, it was always seemed likely that it would take a mistake to break the deadlock and it proved to be just that which led to Plymouth taking the lead on 33 minutes.

Andy Butler looked to play a short pass out to Rowe, who was rapidly closed down by Carey. The wide man galloped forward into space and curled a stunning shot past Marosi from the edge of the area.

Rovers twice went close to equalising in the following minutes.

Coppinger's free kick was headed back by John Marquis and Craig Alcock slammed a shot which McCormick did well to parry.

And moments later the Plymouth keeper palmed away a close range header from Butler.

The hosts were growing in confidence and began to take command of the ball, with the half petering out somewhat for Rovers.

They also struggled to take a stranglehold on the game in the early stages of the second half with both sides cancelling each other out somewhat.

Plymouth defended very well throughout the side, closing the ball down superbly and givign Rovers no time on the ball.

But the half chances continued to come. Mandeville stabbed an effort on goal which McCormick reacted well to while Alcock shot straight at the keeper from the follow up.

Rovers were given a mountain to climb just after the hour mark with a questionable penalty decision.

Donaldson took a heavy touch into the area, running straight into the path of Butler who could not get out of his way.

Referee Oliver Langford pointed to the spot and Jervis slammed the ball in off the underside of the bar.

Ferguson immediately threw on Andy Williams, switching the system to a three man defence. Riccardo Calder also came off the bench shortly afterwards.

Argyle dropped deeper, putting plenty of bodies back and they defended admirably, denying Rovers clear opportunities.

Their best chance before the penalty came when Marquis flicked a header from a direct Coppinger ball but straight at McCormick.

The penalty came a minute from time. Matty Blair darted into the box and was tripped. Mandeville stepped up and in his efforts to place the ball in the bottom corner, sent it off the outside of the post.

McCormick quickly got in his face to gloat and players from both teams charged in. Coppinger was first on the scene and grabbed at McCormick. After the melee was ended, Langford flashed a red at Coppinger, effectively ending Rovers' chances.

Plymouth: McCormick, Miller, Songo'o, Bradley, Threckeld, Fox, Smith, Jervis, Carey, Donaldson, Slew. Subs not used: Dorei, Fletcher, Osborne, Rooney, Tanner, Palfrey, Goodwillie.

Rovers: Marosi, Alcock, Baudry, Butler (Calder 72), Mason (Williams 64), Houghton, Blair, Rowe, Coppinger, Mandeville, Marquis. Subs not used: Jones, Keegan, Beestin, Wright, Middleton.

Referee: Oliver Langford (West Midlands)

Attendance: 8,575 (385 away)