Crewe Alexandra 2
(Lowe 14, James 87)
Doncaster Rovers 1
Alexandra Stadium, Crewe
Sky Bet League Two
Tommy Rowe's penalty proved in vain as Rovers fell to defeat at Crewe.
Rowe's cool conversion with seven minutes to play looked to have earned Rovers a deserved point, but Rovers were again hit by a late sucker punch as James Jones scrambled in a later winner for Crewe.
Rovers had spent much of the match fighting to level after Ryan Lowe's early header, and will feel disappointed to leave the Alexandra Stadium without any points.
Frazer Richardson was handed his first start, after he signed earlier in the week on a two-moth deal.
Other than Richardson, in for the injured Mitchell Lund, Darren Ferguson kept faith with the side which beat Yeovil 4-1 last Saturday. Alfie Beestin and Riccardo Calder, goalscorers in the Checkatrade Trophy in midweek, were on the bench.
Crewe had the opening chance of the game as Crewe won the ball down their left wing, with Zoumana Bakayoko's teasing cross too far ahead of the outstretched legs of Ryan Lowe.
Rovers' first opportunity came after 12 miuntes, when Andy Williams found himself through on goal but his low effort was straight at Ben Garratt.
Richardson was the unlikely shooter next after a smart move from Rovers, but the debutant right-back fired over.
Rovers can feel aggreived to have fallen behind after 14 minutes. Chris Dagnall was afforded too much space on thr left win as Crewe counter-attacked, and his ball in was cooly headed home by a stooped Ryan Lowe.
Rovers regrouped, and had opportunities to level. Andy Williams fired a low effort straight at Ben Garratt and James Coppinger shinned an effort when he was perhaps unsighted.
Coppinger also saw a free-kick from a dangerous position blocked by the wall, while an incisive low cross from Richardson was pulled back by Tommy Rowe, but it was just behind John Marquis.
Coppinger and Marquis combined well after 28 minutes, with a deep cross from the former finding the latter - but his header was just wide of the near post.
Crewe had looked most dangerous on the counter-attack, but Rovers had one of their own after a well-defended corner set Marquis free. He ran from his own half and got away from a number of defenders, but his ball across the box was again just too far in front of Williams.
Coppinger also had a fierce low drive deflected wide, as Rovers went in behind.
HALF-TIME Crewe Alexandra 0 Rovers 1
There were no changes at the start of the second-half, with Rovers again starting looking to press.
But Crewe almost took the lead when Dagnall took advantage of a slip from Joe Wright, but Marko Marosi stood up well to beat it away.
A well-worked training ground routine from a set-piece almost saw Coppinger bring rovers level. Danny Hollands brought down Williams in a central position, earning a booking for a late tackle.
Rowe and Coppinger stood over the ball for the set-piece. Coppinger dummied an effort, but kept on going and Rowe's pass found him in space on the right of his area. His low shot was scrambled away by a combination of home defenders.
Matty Blair was inches away from that elusive leveller as Rovers enjoed a spell of possession on the hour mark. Marquis' shot was blocked, but the ball was played out to Richardson whose cross from the midfielder.
Blair's cushioned header seemed destined for the far post, before Garratt pulled off a great one-handed save.
Marosi showed he was Garratt's equal moments later as Lowe's ball into the area was met by a diving Dagnall. His header, from almost point-blank range, was palmed away brilliantly by a full-stregth Marosi.
Darren Ferguson made a double change with 20 minutes to go, with Riccardo Calder and Harry Middleton coming on for Wright and Richardson.
Calder was clearly full of confidence after his goalscoring exploits in midweek, and he quickly caused danger by bursting into the area but fired over.
Chances were coming thick and fast. Bakayogo got in a brilliant block to deny Marquis in the six-yard box.
Moments later it took some truly defending to deny Rowe then Marquis following a corner.
The breakthrough came via an unexpected penalty. Middleton's shot from outside the area was deflected wide, it could have looped anywhere but looped just wide of a post.
From the corner, Harry Davis' was penalised for a shirt pull and Rovers had a spot-kick. Rowe stepped up to confidently slot the ball into the bottom left corner and draw Rovers level.
The visitors looked the most likely to get a winner, but it was not to be as shortly afterwards James Jones turned the ball home from just inside the area.
FULL-TIME: Crewe Alexandra 2 Rovers 1
STARTING XI | Marosi, Richardson (Calder 69), Butler, Wright (Middleton 69), Evina, Houghton, Blair, Rowe, Coppinger, Marquis, Williams. ROVERS UNUSED SUBS | Etheridge, Mandeville, Beestin, Pugh, Fielding. BOOKINGS | Marquis
CREWE XI | Garratt, Turton, Guthrie, Davis, Lowe, Jones, Dagnall, Cooper (Ray), Bakayogo, Hollands, Kiwomya (Bingham 79). CREWE UNUSED SUBS | Nugent, Saunders, Richards, Kirk, Ainley. BOOKINGS | Hollands
ATTENDANCE: 3,830 (520 away).