Doncaster Rovers 1 Mansfield Town 0: Rowe winner sparks jubilation for League One-bound Rovers

Darren Ferguson
Darren Ferguson
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JOB DONE - almost. Doncaster Rovers have made an immediate return to League One but the title is still up for grabs.

Promotion was assured at the Keepmoat Stadium but Darren Ferguson's side still face a fight for the crown with Plymouth and Portsmouth over the last five games.

It was virtually all over by the break with Stevenage, the only side who could realistically deny Rovers, trailing 4-0 and heading for defeat at Colchester and the scoreline at the Keepmoat goalless.

In the end, a 74th-minute headed goal from Tommy Rowe gave Rovers the points and promotion.

John Marquis, who celebrated his first hat-trick in the 5-1 win at Grimsby in the previous game, led the Rovers attack alongside Andy Williams in an unchanged side.

Steve Evans, describing Doncaster as the best team the Stags have faced this season, had set his players a pre-match target of winning four of their last six games to reach the play-offs. He also went for an unchanged line-up following their last-minute defeat against fellow play-off contenders Exeter City.

Mansfield made the brighter start but Rovers almost went ahead when an inswinging free-kick from Gary McSheffrey rebounded off the knee of goalkeeper Jake Kean.

There was little fluidity to the game but Kean needed two attempts to claim a low drive from McSheffrey and Ian Lawlor calmly caught a curling attempt from Alex MacDonald at the other end.

A disappointing half ended with neither side able to break the deadlock.

There were no changes for the start of the second period and Matt Green's foul on McSheffrey brought the first booking.

Alfie May and James Coppinger were introduced in the 59th minute for Williams and McSheffrey and the pair sparked urgency into the Rovers attack.

Matty Blair almost gave Rovers the lead with a fierce shot from outside the area but Kean, going full length, pushed it round the post for a corner.

It was not long, however, before Rovers made the breakthrough. Coppinger won a corner and curled it to the edge of the six-yard area where Rowe flicked it home in the 74th minute.

Mansfield almost levelled through a far post overhead kick from Danny Rose but Mathieu Baudry was there to clear off the line.

Rovers roared back and Coppinger and Rowe again tested Kean before Blair forced the ball home only to be flagged offside.

Ben Whiteman's curling effort went narrowly wide and substitute Alfie Potter was denied a penalty when he was outmuscled by Rovers captain Andy Butler as the hosts stood firm to claim victory, Lawlor taking a knock in stoppage time.

The final whistle sparked a mass pitch invasion by the Rovers fans.