Doncaster Rovers 1 Swindon Town 2 - Rovers hit by goal in added time

Jonson Clarke-Harris goes airborne for Rovers. Photo: Steve Uttley
Jonson Clarke-Harris goes airborne for Rovers. Photo: Steve Uttley

Paul Dickov had called on his side to repeat December’s backs-against-the-wall win at the County Ground and for exactly half of this contest they did just that.

Rovers very much resembled the away side before the break as they got bodies behind the ball to cope with Swindon’s cultured approach, taking the lead against the run of play through Curtis Main’s tenth goal of the season.

Bizarrely, Doncaster then got on the front foot and played much better in the second half – only to let their lead slip in frustrating fashion when Michael Smith scored from the spot before Jonathan Obika won it in dramatic fashion for Swindon in stoppage time.

Kyle Bennett for Harry Forrester was the only change in personnel but Dickov did away with the midfield diamond and reverted to a 4-2-3-1 shape, with Nathan Tyson and Jonson Clarke-Harris offering support to Main from the flanks.

But Swindon saw more of the ball early on, Ben Gladwin firing wide from 20 yards before John Swift tested Stephen Bywater’s handling from a similar distance.

Town’s passing principles were evident from the whistle but Rovers’ closing down and early tempo were much improved from the weekend. They also looked more balanced in midfield and unlike in several recent games they managed to negotiate the opening half hour without conceding.

Midway through the first half they carved out their clearest opening, as the lively Bennett slid a ball through for Richie Wellens whose cross had just too much on it for the unmarked Clarke-Harris.

While Doncaster were struggling to keep hold of possessionTown had no such problems and enjoyed their best spell on the half hour.

Swift forced another save out of Bywater before Luke McCullough came up with a vital interception to deny Smith a tap-in after the impressive Nathan Byrne got free down the right and looked to pick him out.

So it was somewhat against the run of play when Rovers went ahead just before the interval, Tyson finding space down the left to cross for Main who got in front of his man and finished impressively first time left-footed.

Doncaster were quick out of the blocks for the second period, Bennett twisting and turning before firing a deflected shot just wide. From the corner Clarke-Harris then saw his header superbly clawed away by Wes Foderingham.

At the other end Bywater almost made a complete hash of Gladwin’s long range attempt but gratefully gobbled it up at the second attempt.

It was not long before Swindon were handed a lifeline though, Dean Furman bundling over Gladwin in the box after losing the ball, allowing Smith to convert emphatically from the spot.

Rovers almost responded instantly with Clarke-Harris flashing one just wide, before Main ballooned one over from a tough angle.

Gladwin twice tried his luck from distance but despite being lifted by their equaliser, Town were forced more and more onto the back foot as Rovers reacted well to conceding.

Tyson, who was proving a real handful on the left, saw a decent effort from distance saved by Foderingham as the hosts continued to push, while Main was relieved to see the offside flag after he failed to convert from two yards.

Dickov threw on Theo Robinson and Forrester but the visitors, seeing less of the ball than in the first half, should have gone ahead when Smith picked out Swift only for his point-blank effort to be brilliantly blocked by the legs of Bywater.

The game looked set to end all square before substitute Obika – a summer transfer target for Doncaster – pounced from close range to hammer home what could be a big blow to Rovers’ play-off chances.

Rovers: Bywater, Wabara, McCullough, Butler, Stevens, Furman, Wellens, Bennett (Forrester 70), Main, Tyson, Clarke-Harris (Robinson 70). Subs: Marosi, Razak, McCombe, Evina, Middleton.

Swindon: Foderingham, Branco, Thompson, Turnbull, Byrne, Stephens, Gladwin (Williams 69), Kasim, Toffolo, Swift (Obika 79), Smith. Subs: Johns, Rodgers, Ouldridge, Hylton.

SCORERs: Rovers - Main 4; Swindon - Smith 54 pen, Obika 90+2.

referee: Tony Harrington (Cleveland)

Attendance: 5,258