I didn’t get home from work till fifteen minutes before kick-off and when I checked the starting line-ups I was shocked to see no Maja as I’ve been a bit off the map in the last few days and didn’t realize he’d picked up a bad injury on Saturday. Still plenty of others have been banging in goals for us this season so I was consoled by that thought. I thought that Oviedo would’ve served his suspension but I must’ve been wrong there. Anyway, I still fancied us to get something out of the game and my match prediction was 1-1.
We started brightly with Gooch bursting into their box and shooting just wide of the post and our sizeable contingent were coming across the ether loud and clear. Shortly afterwards Maguire headed over after more good work by Gooch but Doncaster had a couple of decent attempts themselves with a Wilks shot and a Butler header. It sounded like the usual rough and tumble League One stuff and McGeouch was the first into the book after a spot of shirt-pulling in the fourteenth minute. Next thing Sinclair appeared to be upended on the edge of their box but the ref gave nothing. Catts soon received his customary booking after his attempted ‘I am invisible’ act failed to fool the referee. The resultant free-kick went only just over the bar. I couldn’t see the game ending with twenty-two men on the pitch. They were certainly playing it at a good pace and thirty-seven year-old Coppinger was the zippiest of the lot. Doncaster levelled up on the yellow-cards around the half-hour mark when Wilks and Whiteman joined the club, though our fans were baying for a red in Wilks’ case. Maguire put too much angle on a header from a Sinclair cross when the goal was gaping and it went wide and next thing he bodily picked up Coppinger and carried him off the pitch after a minor clash. Meanwhile Honeyman had seen yellow and I wondered if we’d have twenty men on the pitch before long. We conceded a free-kick in a dodgy spot in stoppage-time but McLaughlin got it and in the dying seconds he saved our bacon twice in one-on-one situations after silly defensive errors. All in all Doncaster had had the better scoring chances and I was pleased to get to the break at 0-0.
Just after the restart we took the lead and it was Maguire who stuck it into the roof of the neck after Mathews had seized on a Gooch shot that had come back off the post. It was of course the ideal start but we’d clearly have to battle like hell to hang onto it. There was soon more yellow-carding after James had fouled Wilks and Mason got one for them too. They were doing their best to wind up Catts so I hoped he’d make it to the whistle or maybe be subbed first. Elsewhere Portsmouth and Burton were drawing 2-2 and that was all to the good. Catts was duly subbed by O’Nien not long after the hour. The match kept on buzzing from end to end but the time was going quickly for me and soon there were only twenty minutes to go and we were holding on to that lead tenaciously. Elsewhere again Shrewsbury were beating Barnsley 3-1 and that was great for us as well. O’Nien had the ball in the net when he followed up a Flanagan attempt but it was ruled offside. We were winning a lot of defensive headers and three points were dangling before us as we entered the final ten minutes, though there were bound to be a few minutes of stoppage-time after a lengthy injury early in the half. McGeady replaced Gooch with around five minutes on the clock and the latter received a deserved ovation as he’d really rattled the home defence. Baldwin was sounding his usual solid self as he dealt with whatever was thrown at him and the home fans were drifting away as five minutes of stoppage-time were announced. Butler became the ninth player to be booked when he fouled Sinclair, who’ll know he’s been in a battle all right, and no quarter was given till the final whistle went and we’d won our third away game in a row.
This wasn’t pretty but you have to grapple in this league and we deserved it in the end and with Barnsley losing and Portsmouth drawing at home, it’s been a great night for us. We’re one point behind Peterborough in second place with a game in hand and with a better goal difference. Things could be a lot worse.