Darren Ferguson questions referee as Doncaster Rovers’ time at the top is halted abruptly

Liam Mandeville missed from the spot in Doncaster's defeat to Plymouth.
Liam Mandeville missed from the spot in Doncaster's defeat to Plymouth.
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Having fought their way to the summit of League Two, Doncaster Rovers were quickly usurped on Saturday as Plymouth Argyle took the three points and reclaimed top spot in the race to the third tier.

In an oft-controversial match in Devon, Graham Carey’s goaland a hotly-disputed Jake Jervis penalty gave Plymouth a 2-0 lead before Liam Mandeville – who had scored six goals in his last six games for Rovers – missed a late penalty and veteran James Coppinger was sent off.

Doncaster manager Darren Ferguson felt the concession of the penalty was ‘soft’ as Ryan Donaldson ran into the back of Rovers defender Andy Butler.

He said: “You hope you get one or two decisions.

“The lad has ran straight into Andy Butler and the ball is already in Marko Marosi’s hands.

“He’s run straight into him. The ball has run away from the lad. The referee has made a decision and we feel it was very soft.

“It’s made it difficult for us but at that stage we still felt we could get something out of the game.”

Rovers were already up against it after a mistake by Butler created an opening for Carey to strike the opener for the Pilgrims.

“It’s a bad result but we will react hopefully as we do when we have a defeat,” said Ferguson.

“The first goal in a match like this, particularly with the way that Plymouth set up, was always going to be key. Some of our stuff was good, but we needed a bit more quality at times in the box.”

Mandeville hit the post with his spot-kick and Coppinger was dismissed in the ensuing melee.

Plymouth Argyle: McCormick, Miller, Songo’o, Bradley, Threlkeld, Fox, Smith, Jervis, Carey, Donaldson, Slew. Unused substitutes: Palfrey, Goodwillie, Osborne, Rooney, Dorel, Tanner, Fletcher.

Doncaster Rovers: Marosi, Alcock, Baudry, Butler (Calder 72), Mason (Williams 64), Blair, Houghton, Coppinger, Rowe, Marquis, Mandeville. Unused substitutes: Middleton, Wright, Keegan, Beestin, Jones.

Referee: O Langford (W Midlands).