Doncaster Rovers 3 Hartlepool United 0: We are playing with a smile on faces – Flynn
Doncaster Rovers showed no signs of title nerves as they stayed a point clear of Sheffield United at the top at the expense of resurgent Hartlepool.
Next-to-bottom Hartlepool arrived following a seven-game unbeaten run, but after a bright start they fell behind when Rovers striker Iain Hume drilled home from the edge of the area in the 35th minute after collecting the ball from Jones and cleverly jinking past his marker.
James Coppinger made it 2-0 nine minutes after the break by tucking away his first goal of the season after James Husband’s shot had been blocked.
Steve Howard missed a fine chance to pull one back when he headed against a post.
Striker Billy Paynter then ensured Rovers’ win by heading home Husband’s cross nine minutes from time.
The visitors, who are eight points away from League One safety, also had goalkeeper Scott Flinders to thank for making fine saves from David Cotterill and Jamie McCombe.
Rovers chief Brian Flynn said ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Milton Keynes Dons: “We needed to be at our best against a team that had been playing well and are fighting for their lives. They made it difficult for us at the start and we needed something out of the ordinary to break the deadlock.
“Iain Hume provided that for us with a super goal when he showed great technique to finish with a bit of style.
“I was pleased with a lot of aspects of our game, especially keeping a clean sheet and with the way we quickened up the pace and we were very professional in the second half.
“You have to enjoy yourself when you are top of the table and we look as if we are playing with a smile on our faces.
“Why we’ve got where we are is because the team comes first. There were some great individual performances, but it was the collective effort and display that was pleasing.
“Every game is difficult and there will be one or two setbacks but if we continue to play like this we will be all right.”
Doncaster Rovers: G Woods, Quinn, Rob Jones, McCombe, Spurr, Cotterill (Bennett 85), Syers, Lundstram, Husband, Hume (Paynter 63), Coppinger. Unused substitutes: Maxted, Sinclair, Harper, Wakefield, Ball. Hartlepool Rovers: Flinders, Austin, Collins, Hartley, Horwood, Monkhouse, Baldwin, Humphreys, Wyke, Poole (Howard 59), Franks (James 59). Unused substitutes: McHugh, Walker, Luscombe, Rutherford, Holden.
Referee: S Bratt (W Midlands).
Man of the match: Scott Flinders.