AN OUTSTANDING second-half helped Doncaster Rovers’ end their desperate winless streak in fine style as they gave them an inkling of hope in their League One survival scrap with a superb victory over leaders Wigan.
Rovers were full value for the spoils, with unlikely goal hero Andy Butler netting twice on the restart and Andy Williams firing home a late penalty after David Perkins was dismissed as the hosts did it the hard way after Will Grigg put the Latics ahead just before the break.
Doncaster produced a barnstorming second period en route to their first win in 17 league matches since January 2 and their first three points at the Keepmoat since December 12 - in a thoroughly deserved win.
Incidentally, that pre-Christmas date was the last time that the Latics had been beaten, 21 games ago, while you had to go back to September 12 for their previous away defeat.
Despite their dire predicament, Rovers - commendably - showed bags of spirit in the first half and plenty of intent, while at the other end, Wigan, backed by a sizeable away following, failed to get into their stride.
It was cruel in the extreme that the Lancastrians headed into the dressing room with a one-goal interval deficit, with Wigan - despite a low-key first half - making the most of the one genuine chance which came their way.
It was despatched cliniically by Grigg, who deftly headed home his 21st goal of the campaign following a surging run by Yanic Wildschut four minutes before the minute.
It was tough on Rovers went close to a breakthrough inside in the first minute, when Andy Williams was a whisker away from connecting with McSheffrey’s excellent free-kick from the left as he strove to end his goal drought.
McSheffrey, meanwhile, was not too far away with a a well-struck shot which flew just over on twenty minutes after neat interplay with Tommy Rowe.
Wigan, for a side on the crest of a wave and boasting a marvellous twenty-game unbeaten run, were strangely subdued in the opening 45 minutes; and produced just a couple of half-chances.
Grigg headed wide at the far post following Max Power’s corner, while Wildschut fired off target, with both efforts failing to trouble Remi Matthews, back in goal after coming off in the first half of last weekend’s narrow loss at Bury.
Richard Chaplow also dragged a shot wide with most of their semblances of authority coming from the hosts, who endeavoured to take the game to the Latics.
But Grigg’s clinical header, while Rovers defence all at sea, handed the visitors an undeserved opener and left the hosts with it all to do in the second half.
To their immense credit, Rovers produced a barnstorming start to the half, which yielded two quickfire goals and it could have been more.
Wigan’s defence was rocked somewhat and they looked highly suspectable from corners and the route brought about a brace of strikes.
Stephen Warnock diverted McSheffrey’s goalbound effort, but from the resulting corner, Butler steered home an excellent downward header on fifty minutes.
Rovers went for the jugular, with a fine curling free-kick from McSheffrey soon tipped away by a scrambling Jussi Jaaskelainen before Wigan again showed a dereliction of duty at the back.
McSheffrey’s corner found its way to Butler again and he diverted his effort goalwards and it went over the line before being cleared with the officials soon signalling a goal.
Incredibly, Rovers almost made it three with Williams heading just wide after Wigan were again exposed following a McSheffrey corner.
Wigan regrouped, but Rovers held firm, before the excellent McSheffrey tested Jaaskelainen with a low free-kick at the other end.
Substitute Michael Jacobs then saw a shot deflected off target and then went considerably closer with a superb curler drifting just wide as Wigan pressed for a leveller.
With Wigan caught with numbers upfield, Rovers missed a golden chance to seal victory on the break with a pinpoint throughball from McSheffrey finding substitute Riccardo Calder at full-stretch, but he fired wide with the goal at his mercy.
Rovers made it safe two minutes from time to put the seal on a remarkable afternoon when Williams fired home from the spot after Perkins recieved his marching orders for felling McSheffrey.
Rovers’ boss Darren Ferguson said: “It’s been a long time coming but we’ve been playing well without reward recently and I thought we thoroughly deserved the three points.
“We were unfortunate to be behind at the interval because I thought we were the better team throughout. The equaliser really got us going but we dropped a bit too deep defensively after going in front before we sewed the game up.
“It’s a good day for us but we need four more performances like this to get out of the bottom four.
“This is the level we have to achieve for those games and if we do that we can win them all.
“We showed as a team that we have still got the fight in us and we have to keep that going to the very end.”
Doncaster Rovers: Matthews; Lund, McCullough, Butler, Taylor-Sinclair (Evina 45); McCullough, Coppinger (Calder 68), Chaplow, Rowe, McSheffrey; Williams. Substitutes unused: Stuckmann, Tyson, Mandeville, Stewart, Middleton.
Wigan Athletic: Jaaskelainen; Daniels, Barnett, Pearce, Warnock; Perkins, Morsy (Davies 72), Power (Wabara 82), McAleny (Jacobs 40), Wildschut; Grigg. Substitutes unused: Nicholls, McCann, Morgan, Vuckic.
Referee: K Johnson (Somerset).
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