Life at the top does not get any easier with a visit from Tranmere Rovers to the Keepmoat on Saturday, the first of back-to-back games at home in four days.
Ronnie Moore’s side have been in and out of the automatic promotion spots almost all season. Despite a few hiccups recently they will represent a stern test for Rovers despite having what can only be described as a woeful record in South Yorkshire.
The last time the pair clashed at the Keepmoat was in the League Cup in August 2011, with Sean O’Driscoll’s side romped to victory after a convincing display in which the result was never in doubt.
Rovers had the perfect opportunity to take the lead within the first five minutes when John Welsh was adjudged to have brought down James Coppinger inside the box. Rovers were awarded a penalty which Chris Brown slotted home confidently.
Coppinger was proving to be a real thorn in the side of the visiting side both with his dead ball delivery and his shooting ability. Owain Fon Williams in the Tranmere goal had to be alert to first help clear a corner before having to get down low to deny Rovers a second goal in the opening 10 minutes.
O’Driscoll’s men were in fine form with fluency of passing and clever movement which was a real joy to watch. Spurs loanee Ryan Mason, Kyle Bennett and the aforementioned Coppinger all grabbed the attention with their personal performances.
Tranmere were hit on the break again just before the half hour mark after missing a rare opportunity from a corner. A neat move through midfield ended with Chris Brown feeding Mason inside the box and he finished with aplomb low to the keeper’s left.
Mason twice went close within minutes of the restart with Fon Williams denying the youngster his second goal of the game as the home onslaught continued. Tranmere were looking like a punch drunk boxer, but as the half came to a close they were thankful to only go in two goals behind.
Bennett tested Fon Williams after just two minutes of the restart and Simon Gillett tried from range only to see his effort flash just wide of the goal. There was brief respite for the visitors when they finally got a shot on goal from Robbie Weir but Gary Woods was equal to it.
Rovers punished the visitors just before the hour mark with a goal of true quality from Bennett. After picking the ball up on the edge of the box, Bennett curled a delightful shot into the top corner leaving the ‘keeper with no chance and effectively killing the game off as a contest and seeing the home side comfortably through to the next round.