Rovers FT: Doncaster 1 Birmingham 3

Rovers' Paul Quinn celebratesthe opening goal at the Keepmoat
Rovers' Paul Quinn celebratesthe opening goal at the Keepmoat

Former loan hero Frederico Macheda returned to haunt Rovers with a brace in Birmingham City’s 3-1 win which left the Keepmoat club still nervously close to the relegation zone.

After ending a similar record against Leeds United last weekend, Doncaster were looking for their first win over Birmingham in ten attempts today. Their last victory against the Blues was in 1954.

Rovers suffered a blow in the warm-up when Meite pulled out with a calf strain and was replaced by Duffy. James Coppinger, on his 400th appearance, started at right back.

Ibe looked lively for the Blues but Rovers created the first real opportunity, Brown getting on the end of Husband’s cross but his header lacked direction.

The first effort on target came shortly after, Macheda connecting with Novak’s cross but his downward header lacked power.

There was another let-off for Rovers as the visitors continued to look a threat on the break. Burke was allowed to cut in from the right but his curling left-footed effort went just wide of the far post.

Rovers were probing patiently but not really threatening until Furman unleashed an effort from distance that was deflected wide.

Cotterill then let fly from distance but his fizzing effort went comfortably wide of Randolph’s goal. On an afternoon in which they’d so far had little to shout about, it was the cue for a rousing minute’s applause from Rovers fans in appreciation of milestone man Coppinger.

Both sides were struggling to gain any sort of foothold or control. And to emphasise the game’s somewhat scrappy nature, Coppinger over-hit a cross from the angle of the box when he had more time to weigh up his options.

But Rovers were sticking to that patient build-up and it bore fruit as a neat team move earned a free kick on the edge of the box. Cotterill’s delivery was headed back across the face by Brown and at the second attempt QUINN lashed home from inside the area.

Randolph was forced into a great save to deny Brown from Cotterill’s cross, although the referee penalised the Rovers striker for a foul.

Novak almost conjured up an equaliser, twisting acrobatically on the edge but shooting just wide.

City made their intentions clear at the start of the second half, beanpole striker Zigic was on for Ibe.

Novak tried his luck from distance as the Blues started on the front foot, but his hopeful effort sailed over.

Rovers almost doubled their lead on 50 minutes. Another Cotterill free kick, this time from the left, caused consternation and Neill saw his glanced header well saved by Randolph.

Strong hold up play from Sharp lmost played in Furman but the South African burst into the box and lost his balance at the wrong moment.

Macheda tried an effort from 30 yards but it posed more threat to the corner flag. But within seconds the former Rovers loanee had the ball in the net. Husband was guilty of dallying on the ball in his own penalty area, MACHEDA nicked it off him and calmly fired past Johnstone.

The mood in the stadium changed in an instant. The ball dropped for Zigic 20 yards out but he blazed well over.

Novak headed wide with the goal at his mercy as Johnstone could only parry Burke’s cross. The Blues were totally on top.

Novak then found space down the left, released by Zigic, but his tame effort was easily saved by Johnstone.

Rovers had lost their way completely and Paul Dickov reacted by replacing Duffy with Robinson.

But seconds after the change the home side were behind and it was another defensive disaster. Randolph’s long punt down field sent NOVAK clear and he prodded it past the onrushing Johnstone. Quinn was backtracking but could only find the net with his attempted clearance.

It wasn’t long before the Blues extended their lead. Robinson swung over a free kick and MACHEDA was there again to nod home after Thorpe headed back across the face.

Robinson almost responded at the other end but Rovers were on the ropes, visibly winded by the Blues’ comeback and the impact of their former teammate.

Shinnie almost added a fourth late on from another Randolph clearance but Johnstone spared Doncaster any further blushes on a bad day at the office. Robinson then missed a sitter at the death, rather summing up a woeful second half.