Rochdale 2 Doncaster Rovers 3: James Coppinger brings creative spark as Doncaster hit back

A TRIO of assists by James Coppinger ensured Doncaster Rovers got back to winning ways in a hugely entertaining contest at Spotland.

Doncaster Rovers boss Grant McCann
Doncaster Rovers boss Grant McCann

The veteran was in fine form as Grant McCann’s men banished the memory of recent defeats to Fleetwood Town and Accrington Stanley.

Ali Crawford, Andy Butler and Jermaine Anderson capitalised on the creativity of Coppinger by scoring the goals that keep Rovers in the play-off places.

It was a particularly satisfying afternoon for Crawford, making his first start since suffering a medial knee ligament injury on the opening day of the season.

His opener came on 20 minutes, the Scot picked out by a lovely pass from James Coppinger before firing beyond Mark Lillis.

Either side of the goal, Rochdale had two gilt-edged opportunities but neither Kgosi Ntlhe with an unmarked header or Ian Henderson could take advantage.

The latter’s was a shot slid wide but the miss was nothing compared to the let-off Henderson gave eight minutes before half-time.

A horribly underhit back pass from Danny Andrew allowed Bradden Inman to nip in and square a pass to the Dale captain.

Henderson’s first scuffed effort was blocked on the line by Joe Wright but he simply had to score the rebound only to fire against the crossbar with the entire goal at his mercy.

Doncaster also hit the woodwork through John Marquis in first half stoppage time, moments after Matty Blair had brought a scrambling save from Josh Lillis in the home goal.

The visitors doubled their lead five minutes after the restart, Andy Butler losing marker Ntlhe inside the six-yard box before nodding Coppinger’s cross into the net.

Rochdale’s response came just before the hour, Henderson firing in from the penalty spot after Marquis had clattered into Ntlhe from a corner.

Doncaster, however, would not be denied and substitute Jermaine Anderson wrapped up the points by firing in Coppinger’s inviting cross.

Dale did pull a late goal back through Ntlhe but Rovers held on but there was no way back for Keith Hill's men.