An impressive first professional goal from youngster Liam Mandeville is not enough to seal a late comeback for Rovers.Rovers - 1 (Mandeville 81’)
Walsall - 2 (Mantom 60’, Taylor 65’)
Tuesday, 2nd February, 2016
Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster
SkyBet League One
Rovers returned to the Keepmoat after a weekend off to face promotion chasing Walsall. It was former Rovers manager Sean O’Driscoll’s first time back to the Keepmoat since his departure in 2012.
Having suffered defeat to Port Vale last week, Rovers were looking to bounce back and with Thorsten Stuckmann leaving the field early with injury, Darren Ferguson bought in goalkeeper Chris Neal on loan who made his debut.
The game started an even contest, Rovers matched Walsall well and pressured early.
Just two minutes in everyone in the ground was appealing for a Rovers penalty as Andy Williams twisted and turned into the box before flicking the ball onto the hand of the defender. Despite looking a definite penalty, the referee waved away the protests.
The home side continued to play with confidence passing the ball around nicely. After some good pressure, they almost went ahead. A James Coppinger corner flicked off the head of James O’Connor before falling to Aaron Taylor-Sinclair, whose reaction volley cannoned back off the crossbar.
Front man Andy Williams caused a number of problems and he went close when he lost the defender before breaking into the box. As MacGillivray came off his line Williams looked to find the bottom corner but the angle was against him and his shot was just wide of the post.
Despite looking lively on the break, Walsall barely threatened and Chris Neal looked comfortable on debut in the Rovers goal.
HALF TIME: Rovers 0-0 Walsall
Walsall had the first chance of the second half. Milan Lalkovic delivered a corner into the Rovers box which was met by Downing whose free header looked to be heading for goal but fortunately for the home side it hit the bar.
On the hour mark Sean O’Driscoll’s side took the lead. Bursting through the midfield, Sam Mantom hit a belter at goal from 20 yards and Chris Neal could do nothing to keep it out of the Rovers net.
It took just five minutes for Walsall to double their lead. A clever short corner saw the ball fall to Andy Taylor on the edge of the area. Striking at goal it took a wicked deflection and left Neal with no chance as it found the bottom corner.
Darren Ferguson introduced Cameron Stewart and Liam Mandeville to the game and with ten minutes to play grabbed a goal back.
Youngster Liam Mandeville stormed through the midfield before beautifully curling the ball into the corner past MacGillivray for his first senior goal.
As a late comeback looked to be on the cards, Mitchell Lund went close when he headed just past the post from a Cameron Stewart cross, before Harry Middleton’s shot from range cleared the bar.
It wasn’t to be for Rovers who couldn’t find an equaliser and Walsall went back to the Midlands victorious.
FULL TIME: Rovers 1-2 Walsall
Rovers: Neal, Evina, Alcock (Lund 81’), McCullough, Taylor-Sinclair, Keegan, Coppinger (c) (Mandeville 66’), Chaplow (Stewart 66’), Middleton, Williams, Gooch
Unused Subs: Marosi, Whitehouse, Davies, Lecygne
Walsall: MacGillivray, Demetriou, Taylor, O’Connor, Downing, Chambers (c), Mantom, Bradshaw, Sawyers, Forde, Lalkovic (Henry 75’)
Unused Subs: Preston, Morris, Cook, Kinsella, Roberts, Morris