Rovers Match Report: Scunthorpe 2 Doncaster Rovers 3

Goal: Rovers' Chris Brown turns away and celebrates scoring Doncaster's third goal against Scunthorpe United.
Goal: Rovers' Chris Brown turns away and celebrates scoring Doncaster's third goal against Scunthorpe United.

Advantage Doncaster.

But that advantage really ought to have been greater.

With their nearest rivals for automatic promotion frozen out by the unwelcome late March snow, Rovers moved five points clear at the top of League One.

Games in hand may be still in play but, as the adage goes, it is points on the board that count.

What also could count in such a tight promotion race is goal difference.

And Rovers missed the opportunity to edge theirs a healthier distance away from their rivals.

So many times this season there has been a sense of relief - and often bewilderment - when Rovers have come away with a win.

On this occasion there was a sense of frustration that the victory earned at a freezing Glanford Park was not a larger one.

Scunthorpe were all over the place defensively for much of the game, their high line punished with regularity.

Rovers had several good chances to put real daylight between themselves and their near neighbours.

But through profligacy and play that was at times a little too relaxed, they were never truly out of sight.

Each of Rovers’ three goals - a calamatous David Mirfin own goal, a cool Iain Hume finish on the break and a fine tap-in from Chris Brown - were followed with good spells of pressure.

And more goals should really have come.

It may seem slightly overly negative to dwell on such issues following a derby-day victory.

But should Rovers miss out on automatic promotion, or even the title, on goal difference, this will be the match looked upon as the one that got away.

On the positives, there was definitely more intent about Rovers’ play.

Brian Flynn had rued a ponderous nature on the ball in the disappointing draw with Portsmouth.

But, for the first half at least, Rovers were much more keen to move the ball quickly and in the right direction.

A towering performance from Brown plus the added energy and movement Hume offers over alternative Billy Paynter, ensured success in this department.

There could not have been much more of an energetic start as Rovers took the lead on five minutes in a true moment to forget for Iron defender Mirfin.

A teasing cross from David Cotterill was left by keeper Eirik Holmen Johansen with the ball falling to Mirfin who inexplicably side-footed into his own net from two yards out.

Scunthorpe initially responded well to going behind but Rovers roared back and should have extended their lead.

Hume ended a surging run from the flank by firing straight at Johansen from the edge of the box before getting in the way of a powerful header from Rob Jones from a Cotterill corner.

And Hume was again involved in the best chance of the period.

An excellent flick-on from Brown sent the Canada international through and he wrestled past Paul Reid only to pull his shot wide.

The magnitude of the task facing the relegation-threatened hosts was clear to see in their nervy play, seeing them give away possession cheaply.

But it took until the 39th minute for Rovers to find the punishing blow.

A woeful attempt at an offside trap was exposed by Hume who ran clear to latch onto a clipped Jones ball and finish cooly into the bottom corner.

Completely out of the blue, Scunthorpe pulled a goal back four minutes from the break.

After a foul by James Coppinger 25 yards out, Mark Duffy curled an excellent free kick into the top corner with Gary Woods perhaps caught a little cold.

Scunthorpe enjoyed their best period in the remaining moments of the half and it was Rovers left looking nervy.

But nerves were calmed three minutes into the second half with a fine team goal.

John Lundstram cut a low cross into the area with Brown charging in to side foot home from close range.

This was the point when the rout really should have began as Rovers’ sizeable travelling support roared them on.

But the effect was shortlived and they eased off a little too much.

Scunthorpe pushed harder and crafted a number of half chances, particularly through the impressive Duffy.

To Rovers’ credit, they left very little space for the hosts to operate in, although they also struggled to effectively clear their lines.

And it took a superb last-ditch sliding tackle from Paul Quinn to deny substitute Bartram a scoring opportunity.

But there was little surprise when Scunthorpe pulled a goal back five minutes from time.

Duffy drilled a low ball into the six yard box, Hawley turned a shot onto the post which rebounded back off the striker past a helpless Woods.

The expected Iron onslaught came in the dying moments but other than a off target Jimmy Ryan shot, they did not come close to drawing level.

Rovers held on to secure three points they should have wrapped up much earlier.