First half goals from Kieran Sadlier and James Coppinger ensure Rovers got back to winning ways with a 2-0 win over Peterborough United in Sky Bet League One.
Sadlier had a hand in both goals against his former club, providing the cross for Coppinger’s header and scoring a wonderful individual effort just 10 minutes later. Unusually for the side from Cambridgeshire, they would rue missed chances as they probably should have opened the scoring, but Ivan Toney’s late looping header hit the cross bar.
Darren Moore made two changes to his side that suffered their first defeat of the season on Tuesday night. Seny Dieng made his league debut in the Rovers net and Coppinger came back into the starting XI to replace the injured Matty Blair.
Darren Ferguson named an unchanged Posh team following their 2-2 draw with Tranmere Rovers in midweek.
A game which had always promised to be a contest of attacking prowess delivered from the off with both keepers getting an early touch of the ball. Dieng had to be alert to take a low driven cross by Marcus Maddison which was destined to be tapped in by Ivan Toney at the far post and Christy Pym was on hand to make a save when Jon Taylor’s cut-back was turned goalward by Coppinger.
Rovers started to get more of possession creating a few half-chances - Taylor’s sighter from 25 yards fired wide while Kieran Sadlier’s effort was just over. At the other end, Toney looked to have opened the scoring when he beat the offside trap and headed the ball up and over Dieng who had come off his line. There was a sigh of relief around three sides of the ground as it hit the bar - the striker’s follow up effort was tipped over by Dieng.
Toney continued to show why he is the league’s leading goal scorer as he capitalised on a heavy touch in the Rovers midfield. His effort from the edge of the box barely skimming the far post. While Bens Whiteman and Sheaf both saw chances from distance fly over the bar.
Coppinger’s goal came just after half and hour, his glancing header at the near post from a Sadlier cross was too good for Pym.
Taylor almost made it two straight away when some quick passing between himself and Reece James meant he was able to break into the box. His low drive was deflected forcing a save from Pym - Taylor was first to react to the loose ball but could only find the side netting.
When Sadlier made it two it was in spectacular fashion. A late challenge on Brad Halliday by Posh left back Dan Butler meant Sadlier was able to pick up a loose ball on half-way, the Irishman sprinted away from the field before finishing just inside the far post.
Ferguson made two changes to his side at half-time with Butler and Joe Ward being replaced by Nathan Thompson and Siriki Dembele.
Despite the changes, Rovers dominated most of the second half. Quick feet from Coppinger saw him twist and turn away from his marker earned him a shooting opportunity in the box – he could only curl the ball wide. Sheaf also went close after cutting inside and a misplaced pass by the newly introduced Thompson seemed to have put Niall Ennis in, but the striker was unable to get the ball out of his feet and was eventually closed down by the Posh defence.
Chances kept coming for Rovers, Sadlier’s header from Sheaf’s cross was on target but lacked the power it needed to trouble Pym and a series of shots by Ennis, Taylor and Sadlier were all blocked by Peterborough bodies. Halliday also saw one wide after a corner broke down.
Arguably Peterborough’s best chance of the second 45 fell to Knight. Toney did brilliantly to hold off Rovers defence and lay the ball off to Knight but his shot was pulled wide.
Ferguson sent his third replacement on with a note when Idris Kanu came on for Niall Mason in the 70th minute. Rovers were able to take advantage as the visitors rearranged their back four and Whiteman’s pass saw Taylor and Ennis break with pace. Ennis’ run opened up space for the Rovers no.10 but he could not keep his effort on target.
The changes did prove effective for the visitors as they seemed to have four upfront and Rovers had to see out some sustained pressure - crosses and corners causing the home side problems, but Rovers defence stood up to it putting their bodies on the line until Mo Eisa’s effort went over.
Moore made his first sub with ten minutes remaining – a standing ovation greeted Sadlier as he made way for Alfie May.
There was more pressure for Rovers to deal with as they looked to see out the closing stages of the match prompting a double change by the Moore. Taylor and Coppinger – also receiving standing ovations – exited the pitch to be replaced by Madger Gomes and Donervon Daniels, the latter of whom was making his Rovers debut.
The pair’s first task was to defend a Posh corner which required an important foot from Tom Anderson to deny Marcus Maddison. Peterborough did have the ball in the Rovers net moments later but Toney and Eisa were both flagged offside.
Whiteman should have wrapped the game up injury time when he Ennis and May broke onto a defence of one. Ennis found the Rovers skipper with his square pass and while Whiteman’s shot got the best of Pym – he had to watch it glance off the inside of the post and roll agonisingly across the goal line.
Maddison also saw one glance off the post and Gomes and Toney both went down in the opposition box, but the officials waived away both appeals – Gomes picking up a yellow for diving.