Having already been relegated against Portsmouth last week, Doncaster Rovers could play without pressure against Coventry as they did in midweek against Middlesbrough. The performance on Tuesday was definitely one to be proud of, with Donny passing the ball around Boro and doing enough to frustrate them with a draw against the bottom side.
If Doncaster Rovers managed a similar performance against Coventry at the Ricoh Arena, they would cruise past their hosts and condemn them to relegation. There was a party atmosphere in the South Stand of the Ricoh Arena, with fancy dress, balloons and flags galore for Rovers’ final away game in the Championship for at least a year.
James Coppinger had the first shot of the fixture in the second minute, but Martin Cranie managed to get a block in. It was Rovers who dominated the opening stages, with Jimmy O’Connor an essential player in the build up and finishing of several efforts, but shots from him and Simon Gillett failed to hit the target. Also during the first half, Clive Platt had a header cleared off the line for the hosts while Cody McDonald struck the post.
The sides went into half time level pegging, although the South Yorkshire side showed their ability to pass around their opposition and create chances, an ability they have failed to show throughout the season.
The second half carried on as the first had ended, although the hosts seemed to have lost some of their fight after learning that Bristol City were leading against Barnsley, therefore sending them down.
This showed in the 80th minute when poor control from Richard Keogh let James Hayter through clear on goal, only to be tugged back for a penalty – a challenge deemed worthy of a red card for the Coventry captain. Hayter brushed himself down, before stepping up and sending Murphy the wrong way to put the bottom side in front.
Rovers came close to doubling their advantage moments later when debutant James Husband found himself one-on-one with Joe Murphy. Husband was unlucky not to score as his effort went straight at the keeper.
It didn’t take too long before the visitors were celebrating again though. After some extremely patient build up play John Oster passed across the edge of the penalty area to Gillett who, unchallenged, fired out of the reach of Murphy to put Rovers two in front.
The second goal sparked boos and protests from the home supporters against Coventry’s owners, and some fans even entered the field of play to show their disgust.
This was a well-earned victory for Rovers, which not only sent their hosts into League One and gave the travelling fans a win to cheer for the first time in 12 games, but also proved Doncaster’s capabilities for the upcoming League One campaign.
The performance also saw three players chosen for the nPower Championship team of the week, with George Friend, Simon Gillett and James Coppinger all impressing. My personal man of the match goes to James Husband, whose full debut for Doncaster Rovers was one to be extremely proud of.