Doncaster provide triumphant ending to turbulent fortnight

AS any long-standing Doncaster Rovers fan will no doubt attest, the fortnight since John Ryan walked away has, for all its shock value at the time, been some distance from matching the darkest days of even the recent past.

Doncaster Rovers manager Paul Dickov.

This, let us not forget, is a club that once had a chairman jailed for his part in a conspiracy to burn down the main stand at their old Belle Vue home.

Supporters also became so desperate in 1998 that they paraded a coffin through the streets of Doncaster in a mock funeral, designed to draw attention to the plight of a club that seemed on the verge of drawing its last breath.

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Up against those two traumatic incidents, Ryan’s exit five minutes before the derby draw at Barnsley on November 12 cannot compare.

That said, there can be little doubt that the departure of the man who transformed Rovers’ fortunes in 15 years has rocked supporters.

This much was clear both ahead of kick-off and again just before the final whistle blew last night as Ryan’s name was sung loudly by the home support among the 6,620 strong crowd.

What better tonic, therefore, for this proud South Yorkshire club than a return to winning ways as Yeovil Town were beaten thanks to strikes from Dean Furman and Mark Duffy.

On the balance of play and chances created, a draw may have been a fairer result with Yeovil, who had equalised through Byron Webster just before half-time, playing their full part in an absorbing contest.

Even at the finish, the visitors had a couple of gilt-edged chances that they could not convert to ensure it would be a miserable trip home to Somerset for their small band of 184 fans.

Adding to the frustration of Gary Johnson and those supporters will have been Doncaster having to play the final 10 minutes with 10 men after Furman, who just three days earlier had been in the South Africa team that beat world champions Spain, was red carded for collecting his second booking of the night.

Not, of course, that anyone whose loyalties lay with Rovers cared a jot about that as their side edged away from trouble at the wrong end of the Championship.

Yeovil, the Championship’s bottom club, have not won away from home since the opening-day triumph at Millwall.

Judging by the basic error that led to Rovers taking the lead on 11 minutes, it is easy to see why the Glovers are struggling as Fraser Fyvie, under no pressure in the centre circle, passed the ball straight to Mark Duffy.

He immediately raced forward and played a neat ball to Federico Macheda, who then rolled a pass across goal for Furman to finish from close range.

Fyvie tried to make amends shortly before the half-hour with a free-kick that beat the defensive wall but not Ross Turnbull, who saved neatly at the foot of his near post.

It proved to be the midfielder’s last action as manager Gary Johnson opted to send Kevin Dawson on in his place.

Such are the ways of a modern day footballer that Fyvie had tweeted his regret at the costly mistake he had made several minutes before the first half had even finished.

By the interval, Rovers were the ones harbouring regrets after allowing Yeovil to bring the scores level.

Webster did the damage from close range in the 42nd minute, the striker latching on to a powerful header across goal from team-mate Shane Duffy after Rovers had failed to cut out a deep free-kick.

Considering how Yeovil’s display had improved the longer the half wore on, the equaliser was no more than the visitors deserved – especially as, during the build-up, Turnbull had done very well to beat the ball to safety as Grant looked set to convert Liam Davis’s cross.

Turnbull continued to impress after the restart as, first, he kept out Davis’s effort before then getting down to his right smartly to deny Sam Hoskins.

Rovers, too, had chances in a second half that both sides clearly felt was theirs for the taking as Chris Dunn kept out a drilled effort from Paul Quinn.

The Yeovil goalkeeper repeated the trick to deny David Cotterill’s free-kick that, had it been taken in the summer months, would have rightly been labelled a ‘daisy-cutter’.

As play continued to rage from one end to the other, Richie Wellens wasted a golden opportunity with a fluffed shot that allowed a relieved Dunn to drop on the ball.

The Glovers goalkeeper’s save to deny Duffy 10 minutes from time was a much more conventional affair and it was followed moments later by Furman being red carded for a reckless challenge.

It meant Doncaster having to play out the rest of the game with 10 men but that proved to be no handicap as they sealed the points courtesy of a pinpoint free-kick from Duffy to ensure a happy ending to what has been a difficult fortnight.

Doncaster Rovers: Turnbull, Quinn, Khumalo, McCullough, Wabara; Duffy, Furman, Wellens, Cotterill (Coppinger 65); Macheda (Foley 87), Robinson (Paynter 68). Unused substitutes: Maxted, Wakefield, De Val, Peterson, Finnegan.

Yeovil Town: Dunn, Ayling, Webster, Duffy, McAllister (Davis 38); Edwards, Upson, Fyvie (Dawson 30), Ralls; Hoskins (Hayter 74), Grant. Unused substitutes: Foley, Stewart, Fontaine, Madden.

Referee: S Attwell (Warwickshire).