Doncaster Rovers 3 Scunthorpe United 0: Double act sharpen up for the Blades as Rovers eye play-offs

BLADES fan Billy Sharp is on a mission to complete a quickfire derby double at Bramall Lane today to maintain Doncaster's push for a play-off place and show Sheffield United what they are missing in more ways than one.

He set Rovers on the way to their first double of the season on Saturday with the opener against one of his former clubs and is looking to repeat the act against Sheffield United, who sold him to Doncaster for 1.1m following a season-long loan.

Sharp made his name with The Iron, scoring 53 goals in 80 league appearances, but there is no room for sentiment in football and he followed up his brace of goals at Glanford Park in October by heading in the opener in the 26th minute from a curled in corner from Brian Stock.

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The match had kicked off an hour late due to one of the minimum two ambulances required under health and safety regulations having broken down on the way to the Keepmoat but it was game over by half-time.

Had not another former Blade, Jonathan Forte, not wasted an early chance when he failed to beat the imposing frame of goalkeeper Neil Sullivan from close range it could have been a different story.

Once Sharp had struck, Rovers assumed control with quality passing football, prompted largely by John Oster and sitting midfielder Stock, who was no doubt under the scrutiny of the watching Leeds United scout.

James Hayter soon matched Sharp on eight goals as he slid in at the far post to convert James Coppinger's deep cross and victory was assured in stoppage time as on-loan Southampton defender Joseph Mills met another great cross from Oster to beat Joe Murphy and celebrate his first goal in senior football.

The edge was taken off Rovers' win not only by a pitiful attendance of under 10,000 but by an early ankle injury to Shelton Martis, Stock leaving the ground on crutches after off-the-ball retribution from Michael O'Connor and centre-back Sam Hird being sent off late on for a second yellow, following some persuasion of referee Paul Tierney by the Scunthorpe players.

Rovers had not played for a fortnight due to a lack of undersoil heating and a boiler breaking down at Derby and Sharp said: "It was important we backed up the win over Middlesbrough with another victory. We were eager to get back on the pitch but I've never known a game delayed so long, although we managed to stay focussed.

"Every goal is special to me, not just scoring against Scunthorpe. I like scoring every week and I aim to do that.There's no private battle with James (Hayter). I'm trying to get him as many goals as I can and, hopefully, he's trying to do the same for me. I said beofre the game 'come on H let's go and get our eigth' and luckily enough we've done that."

As he looked ahead to today's game, Sharp played down the significance of facing his heroes, whom he first played against in the 2-0 home win in October.

"Every game is a big one for me. We will be ready to go to Bramall Lane. I've played against Sheffield United now and that first time was a weird feeling but I enjoyed it although the edge got took off it with my injury. Hopefully, I'll stay fit this time and have another enjoyable afternoon.

"But I know they are going to be even more pumped up with a new manager and will not want us to do the double over them but we will be eager to get a good result."

Sharp is particularly relieved that the Blades new manager is not Rovers chief Sean O'Driscoll, who was firmly in the frame before Micky Adams's appointment.

"I'm delighted he is staying. One of the big reasons I signed for this club is because of the gaffer. I would have been very disappointed to see him leave because he has a very good thing going here and he can push us on a lot more more. I don't care what anybody says about our chances. I train with the lads every day and it is a very good group of players and if we can believe in ourselves and get a good run going then anything can happen when we get in the mix.

"Blackpool proved it last season and who would have thought they would be doing well in the Premiership? They are doing so because they have belief and if we can do that then so will we."

Experienced Hayter echoed Sharp's comments: "It was massively important for the players that the manager stayed. He's a very good manager and has had great success here.

"Everyone really respects him and likes the way he goes about things. There is always that element of doubt over his future because Sheffield are a big club with big support. So you always know there will be people looking at him because he's doing well, which bodes well for everyone here.

"It's going to be a tough test on Monday with them having a new manager coming in but we have to go there and be up for the battle.

"We would like to think we can be the Blackpool of the division this time but there will be others who think they can do the same. Blackpool are everyone's benchmark and we are no different to other teams."

Doncaster Rovers: Sullivan, O'Connor, Martis (Lockwood 17), Hird, Mills; Stock (Shiels 63); Wilson, Oster; Coppinger, Sharp, Hayter (Healy 80). Unused substitutes: Gillett, Woods, Souza, Fairhurst.

Scunthorpe United: Murphy, Wright, Byrne, Mirfin, Nolan; Collins, Togwell, O'Connor (Wright 61), Woolford; Dagnall (Thompson 73), Forte (Godden 46). Unused substitutes: Slocombe, McClenahan, Cowan-Hall.

Referee: P Tierney (Lancs).