John Marquis inspired Rovers to a victory which opened up a four-point gap at the top of the table.
(Marquis 5,71, Rowe 58)
Thursday January 5, 2017.
Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster.
Sky Bet League Two.
A John Marquis inspired Doncaster side made it 16 league games unbeaten at the Keepmoat Stadium and in turn extended the gap between themselves and fourth-placed Portsmouth to 10 points.
A goal in both halves from the front-man either side of a Tommy Rowe piledriver was enough to see off their opponents from the south coast.
Rovers took the lead with just five minutes gone, a James Coppinger cross was flicked into the path of leading scorer Marquis by Matty Blair and the No.9's calm header put the home side 1-0 up.
The early goal settled Rovers down and they had a chance to make it two a few moments later, Everton loanee Conor Grant stung the palms of David Forde with a driven shot from the edge of the area.
Portsmouth’s best chance of the opening exchanges came from a set piece delivery – the ball was met by the head of visiting defender Matt Clarke who forced Marko Marosi into a brilliant one-handed save down low to his right.
The chances dried up a little after that until four minutes before half time. Pompey quickly countered on Rovers and the ball was played through for Kal Naismith, he remained calm and slotted the ball past Marosi to equalise. 1-1.
Half-time: Rovers 1 Portsmouth 1.
Both sides looked for a sustained spell of possession in the early stages of the second half, and it was Portsmouth who threatened first as Gareth Evans’ deflected shot was well kept out by Marosi.
Rovers regained the lead as the game closed on the hour mark. Coppinger was again the architect, galloping forward before feeding Rowe on the left, he unleashed an unstoppable finish into a top corner past Forde to make it 2-1.
Rovers were relentless with their pressure and soon had a third, this time Rowe was the provider as he fizzed a cross to the back post which Marquis met with a sweet volley into the back of the net,
There was a sour note for Darren Ferguson’s side with moments remaining, goalkeeper Marosi suffered an ankle injury as he landed after collecting the ball which led to him being replaced by Ross Etheridge.
Nevertheless this was a crucial three points in Rovers’ promotion charge and continued their 100 per cent winning record so far in 2017.
Full-time: Rovers 3 Portsmouth 1
Rovers | Marosi (Etheridge, 86), Alcock, Baudry, Butler, Mason, Rowe, Grant, Houghton, Blair (Williams, 54), Coppinger (C) (Middleton, 66), Marquis. Subs not used: Wright, Keegan, May, Beestin.
Portsmouth | Forde, Doyle (C), Burgess, Clarke, Rose, Stevens, Evans, Bennett (Roberts, 66), Baker ( Lalkovic, 61), Naismith (Chaplin, 75), Smith. Subs not used: O’Brien, Whatmough, Linganzi, Hunt.
Attendance: 5,568 (away 669)