Saturday Night Takeaway: Nothing less should be expected from the greatest as James Coppinger secures a huge point for Doncaster Rovers

We should have known. We have seen it more than enough times over the best part of two decades to suggest it was written in the stars.

Saturday, 20th February 2021, 9:01 pm

As he stood over a free kick, 20 yards from goal, deep into time added on, with the chance of rescuing a hugely valuable and important point against a promotion rival, it seemed there would be only one outcome.

After all, James Coppinger has been producing golden moments for the best part of two decades. And on this, a day set aside to honour his incredible contribution to the club, there was an inevitability.

But knowing exactly what was coming took absolutely nothing away from the magnitude of yet another simply special moment from Doncaster Rovers’ greatest servant.

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James Coppinger curls in his free kick deep into injury time to secure Rovers a point against Hull City. Picture: Howard Roe/AHPIX

Wearing the gold kit he himself designed to mark his 17th and final campaign at the club, and with a swipe of a boot gifted by his teammates to honour the occasion, he curled the ball over the wall and into the corner with the goalkeeper not even budging.

All that was missing was the incredible roar that would have come had the stands at the Keepmoat been full. If ever there was a moment that deserved to have supporters present.

There would not have been a dry eye in the house.

Just two days earlier Coppinger laid bare the struggle of adapting to less game time in his final season and his decline in prominence within the group.

But in adding another stunning achievement to the bulging scrapbook of his career, he showed that he still has a huge part to play.

The goal was a tremendously important one for the side, and could yet prove to be a pivotal moment in what could yet prove to be an incredible season for Rovers.

They were on the verge of fourth successive defeat, facilitated by poor, error-strewn defending. And while they were much the better side in the second half, seeing their efforts come to nothing could have been a huge psychological blow at a time when confidence was shook.

It was not the win that Rovers probably needed after their recent run. But in terms of lifting them out of their slump, and with the manner the result was secured, it was as good as.

At half time the story was one of bitter frustration at Rovers shooting themselves in the foot yet again, with poor marking to blame for allowing ex-loanee Mallik Wilks to bag a brace and Jacob Greaves to nod in from close range, all from deliveries into the box.

The familiarity from the recent defeats was painful, particularly with Greaves netting not long after Reece James had lashed in to give Rovers a lifeline.

Half time allowed for a reset and reflection. Hull sat in deeper, attempting to soak up pressure. Rovers knocked on the door throughout the second half.

And while there was little answer for so much of it, they maintained composure and drive to push on, even after being denied two stonewall penalties.

They were finally awarded one when Josh Sims tumbled, allowing Omar Bogle to get off the mark for the club from the spot.

And it set the stage for Coppinger’s late heroics, earning a huge point that was fully deserved.


In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.