Dreams of Wembley dashed in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy as Rovers lose out to Notts County at the Keepmoat Stadium.
Doncaster Rovers 0
Notts County 1 (Noble, 74)
Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster.
Tuesday 9th December 2014
Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Northern Area Quarter-Final
It wasn’t to be for Rovers in this year’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy as they were narrowly edged out 1-0 at home to Notts County despite having the ball in the net once themselves.
Rovers made five changes to the team who were victorious in the FA Cup on Saturday handing a first professional start to 18 year old academy product Billy Whitehouse.
Cedric Evina, Liam Wakefield, Marc De Val and Harry Forrester were also handed starts by Paul Dickov.
In a game of little chances it was Rovers who started the brightest but they were unable to create any real chances despite their patient build up on a very windy night at the Keepmoat.
The first real opportunity came for Notts County in the 11th minute when the visitors were awarded a free kick on the edge of the area. Liam Noble put in a dangerous delivery, Haydn Hollis got onto the end of it but the pressure from the Rovers defence was enough to force a goal kick.
This sparked the visitors into life and in the 16th minute former Rover Mustapha Dumbaya showed his pace and put in a good cross from the right wing, Jake Cassidy turned and volleyed but his shot flew wide into the South Stand.
The game then went into a bit of a lull and it wasn’t until the half hour mark before Rovers had a glimpse of goal.
Bennett shook off a couple of defenders on the right, drove the ball into the box and a wicked deflection almost took it in the net but unfortunately experienced goalkeeper Roy Carroll made the block, even if he didn’t know much about it.
Ten minutes later came Rovers’ best chance as they were awarded a free kick 20 yards out, just left of centre. Bennett hit it well, leaving Carroll frozen to the spot, but the curling effort drifted wide of his right post.
The Rovers defence looked assured all half and they had to be to survive three corners in succession to go into the changing rooms goalless.
Half Time Rovers 0 Notts County 0
Notts County started the 2nd half on top with Rovers hardly touching the ball in the first couple of minutes and it wasn’t long before they had a chance.
After another succession of corners in the 50th minute, Liam Noble's 2nd attempt rolled across the face of goal with no one wanting to attack it.
Both sides were quite wasteful with the ball with very few chances being created until a moment of controversy in the 68th minute.
Rovers thought they had scored when Bennett’s wonderful strike from 20 yards found the back of the net only to see the Assistant Referee’s flag. After some consultation it was decided that the shot had deflected off Main who was unluckily offside.
Their heads didn’t drop though. James Coppinger and Richie Wellens were brought on to liven things up and it appeared to have paid off. Robinson came inches away from getting on the end of Main cross as Rovers looked brighter in possession.
Sadly it was in the 74th minute when the game was decided, arguably against the run of play. Noble was allowed to drive forward from midfield before unleashing a fine strike 20 yard strike which nestled in the bottom corner.
County looked to double their lead after the introduction of Traore and Garry Thompson shortly after their goal. The linked up instantly but Traore's tame shot rolled wide after Johnstone saved an initial effort from Thompson.
Rovers began to push in the final ten minutes but a Bennett free kick in a dangerous position was caught comfortably by Carroll six minutes from time.
Jamie McCombe was introduced and thrown up front in a desperate attempt to equalise and a chance came in the final minute of added time. Coppinger put in a cross which a scrambling Carroll somehow managed to palm away from his goal.
In the end it wasn’t to be for Paul Dickov’s side though as they drop out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at the Quarter-Final stage for the third time in a row.
Team Details –
Rovers: Johnstone, Evina, Wakefield (McCombe, 90), Butler, McCullough, Forrester (Wellens, 63), De Val, Whitehouse (Coppinger, 63), Bennett, Robinson and Main
Subs not used: Marosi and Keegan.
Notts County: Carroll, Dumbaya, Adams, Smith (C.Thompson, 90), Hollis, Cassidy, Noble, McLaughlin, Laing, Petrasso (G.Thompson, 74) and Hall (Traore, 74).
Subs not used: McKenzie and Pilkington.
Cautions – McLaughlin 63 mins, Traore 83 mins