Doncaster Rovers 3 Hull City 2: Tigers toppled by stunning fightback

A dramatic stoppage-time strike from cricketer-turned-footballer Dave Syers left 10-man Hull City stumped on a bewildering evening at the Keepmoat.

Syers, who before starting out in professional football with Bradford City played league cricket with Farsley, slotted home his second goal of the night from close range following a cross from James Coppinger – in possibly his final game for Doncaster Rovers – to seal a stunning comeback.

Hull’s reputation as being parsimonious at the back and prolifigate in attack was shot to pieces on a see-saw evening which will have left the 1,057-strong travelling contingent scratching their heads.

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The evening was made worse when Steve Bruce confirmed afterwards that midfielder Tom Cairney could face a considerable spell on the sidelines after coming off with a knee injury in the first half – the Hull manager angered at the challenge from James Husband.

A shortage of goals had proved the Tigers’ Achilles heel throughout last season and in the early stages of this, but they hit a rich attacking seam in a fluid opening against Rovers and took out their frustration on the hosts, racing into an early two-goal lead.

Hull doubled their goals tally so far this term inside just 10 minutes with Aaron Mclean coolly firing home the opener after just 32 seconds.

Jay Simpson added a second, reacting the quickest after Tom Cairney’s fine free-kick hit the woodwork.

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But Rovers, unbeaten on home soil against Hull since March 1985, hit back impressively.

Rovers boss Dean Saunders, who lifted the League Cup with Aston Villa in 1994, made five changes, finding a place in the side for Coppinger despite on-going speculation over his future ahead of the closure of the transfer window.

Ex-Tigers striker Billy Paynter started on the bench, with his place going to veteran Robbie Blake – the 36-year-old handed his first start in a competitive game since last August – while James Harper started against his former side.

Hull manager Steve Bruce, who won the cup in his playing days with both Norwich and Manchester United, made six changes with £2.6m striker Nick Proschwitz starting on the bench.

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Saunders cited tiredness as a major reason for their insipid weekend performance against Crawley and they carried on from where they left off against the Red Devils.

Ponderous defending from Jamie McCombe, who failed to with James Dudgeon’s cross, enabled Mclean to swivel adroitly before firing coolly past Gary Woods.

Simpson then doubled their account with a mere 10 minutes gone with the match resembling a trainng ground exericse for Hull in the first half-hour.

Then out of nothing, Rovers pulled a goal back on the half-hour, with a sublime strike not in keeping with their performance.

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Coppinger’s header was latched onto by Syers 25 yards out and the midfielder struck a brilliant dipping volley into the net, beating Ben Amos all ends up for his first goal for Rovers.

Moments later, the Tigers almost restored their two-goal cushion with Simpson glancing a header wide after nifty footwork and a pinpoint cross from the dangerous Cameron Stewart.

Simpson, who posed Rovers problems with his movement, tested Woods twice in quick succession in the build-up to half-time before Hull spurned a glorious chance to restore their two-goal cushion moments before the break.

Slick interplay in the box saw Mclean superbly deceive his marker before laying the ball on a plate to Corry Evans, who had started the move, but he screwed the ball wastefully wide from close range when it looked easier to score.

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Rovers flew out of the blocks after the interval and restored parity when defender Jones flicked home Tommy Spurr’s cross three minutes before the hour mark.

On 67 minutes, a slaloming run from Mclean ended with the striker’s swerving shot being parried by Woods.

A night that began so comfortably for the Tigers then took a turn for the worse 11 minutes from the end of normal time.

Paul McKenna was dismissed following an altercation with Jones, an incident which saw the Rovers defender cautioned.

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A grandstand finale saw both sides press for a winner with Simpson racing clear late on, only to see his shot come back off a post.

It was left to Syers to have the final word to complete a remarkable night.

Doncaster Rovers: G Woods, McCombe, Jones, Spurr; Quinn (Cotterill 60), Coppinger, Harper, Keegan, Husband, Syers; Blake (Paynter 67). Unused substitutes: Sullivan, Meade, Middleton, Mullen, Binns.

Hull City: Amos; Chester, Faye (Bruce 90), Dawson; Stewart, Cairney (McKenna 37), Olofinjana, Evans, Dudgeon; Mclean (Aluko 74), Simpson. Unused substitutes: Oxley, Cooper, Devitt, Proschwitz.

Referee: S Rushton (Staffs).