Doncaster Rovers 2 Crawley Town 0: Mo Faal and Joe Ironside take the plaudits as Doncaster seize their opportunity

Doncaster Rovers 2 Crawley Town 0It took a Crawley Town mistake to open the door for Doncaster Rovers, but once they did, there was nothing the in-form visitors could do to stop Grant McCann's players rushing through it.

Ironically it was a slip from Jay Williams, who shared pantomime villain status with the referee who allowed him to get a bit too personal with Joe Ironside too often, which allowed Mo Faal to open the scoring nearly half an hour into the contest and once they did, it tilted the balance completely.

Ironside and West Bromwich Albion loanee Faal are two quality forwards at League Two level but their team-mates struggled to find them in the opening stages of the game. Once the dam burst, it was a different, much happier, story.

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In the early stages Crawley moved the ball about with the confidence a team joint top of the division after five consecutive wins in all competitions ought to, but there was a lack of devilment from the Red Devils in their very pale green shirts which made the white numbers on them almost invisible.

FOULED: Luke Molyneux is brought down by Travis JohnsonFOULED: Luke Molyneux is brought down by Travis Johnson
FOULED: Luke Molyneux is brought down by Travis Johnson

Doncaster, by contrast, had only won two league matches all season and their belated resurgence – or surgence, perhaps – hit the buffers at Barrow on Saturday. Against that backdrop, heads could easily have gone down as Crawley knocked the ball about but as soon as they had some encouragement to cling to, they looked a good team.

Louis Jones had to make a good tip-over from Laurence Maguire – brother of Harry – at a 10th minute corner but for all the fluidity of Crawley’s football, that was pretty much that in the opening half-hour.

Crawley keeper Corey Addai had hardly been overworked either in the early stages, saving low from Faal, but once Doncaster had a lead, their self-belief visibly grew.

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Addai made his second important save when a Luke Molyneux cross was worked to Owen Bailey, up from the back, at the end of a good move in the 26th minute, only for the defender to be denied.

BIG GOAL: Joe Ironside (centre) celebrates scoring from the penalty spotBIG GOAL: Joe Ironside (centre) celebrates scoring from the penalty spot
BIG GOAL: Joe Ironside (centre) celebrates scoring from the penalty spot

Soon Williams unwittingly let them in, though.

His premature attempts to swap shirts in a running battle with Ironside only made him and the referee who refused to book him, Martin Woods, less and less popular.

Woods seemed to regard Ironside to be as much sinner as sinned against, but the failure to clamp down on the centre-back was made all the more infuriating when Bailey was booked for dwelling too long over a throw-in when no one showed for him.

McCann’s frustration at a blatant Williams pull the near-side linesman should have had a very good view of put his name in the book too.

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By the end it was his opposite number, Scott Lindsey, unable to bottle his frustration, giving the home fans back with his best impression of a South Yorkshire accent. They loved it because it showed, even as Crawley pushed to get back in the game, they had won.

A slip from Williams let Ironside in as his side sprang a quick counter-attack down the left. Ironside crossed for Faal to find the net.

Faal could quickly have added to his score, Addai diving right to keep out a header from Zain Westbrooke’s free-kick. The rangy Faal won his header from the corner, but put it wide.

Ironside was unable to score a diving header from Molyneux's 39th-minute cross, arguing it had a lot to do with another pull from Williams.

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The break did nothing to stop Doncaster's momentum, Ironside heading a Tom Nixon cross wide on the stetch and two mishit crosses a minute apart causing panic, Addai topping over Bailey's, then watching Molyneux's from the opposite side hit the angle of post and crossbar.

A Molyneux shot had the sting taken out of it, another dribbled wide of its own accord.

It felt like a second goal was coming and it did.

Nixon overlapped and when the ball came in, Faal was on the floor, apparently put there by Will Wright. Ironisde sent Addai the wrong way in ramming his penalty in.

Faal shot at the keeper when Wright's poor attempt at a cushioned header let him in minutes later and Iroside just failed to stretch to another Nixon cross after Faal had a shot blocked.

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Nixon ran himself so hard bombing on from centre-back he collapsed with exhaustion after winning an 89th-minute corner.

Liberated by the scoreline, Crawley began to push once more, running hard through the midfield, but again failed to make enough of it. Jones did well to hold a fierce shot from a tight angle, but his had been quite a quiet night.

Aaron Henry produced a dangerous delivery from a stoppage-time free-kick but Kellan Gordon's shot cleared the crossbar.

Once they got in front, Doncaster were not going to be stopped.

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Doncaster Rovers: Jones; Nixon(Broadbent 90), Anderson, Olowu (Faulkner 81), Bailey, Molyneux; Close, Westbrooke, Rowe; Ironside, Faal (Marsh 81). Unused substitutes: Lawlor, Sotona, Roberts, Goodman.

Crawley Town: Addai; Williams, Wright, Maguire; Darcy (Gordon 73), Lolos, Forster (Khaleel 73), Kelly (Henry 46), Tsaroulla (Roles 63); Campbell (Simon-Swyer 81), Johnson. Unused substitutes: Ashby-Hammond, Omole.

Referee: M Woods (Airdrie)