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Match Reports

REPORT & GALLERY | DONCASTER 2 LUTON TOWN 1

Elliot Lee on target for the third time this season, but Hatters are beaten by Donny

8 September 2018

The Hatters tasted defeat for the first time in four league matches this afternoon as Doncaster edged a close encounter at the Keepmoat Stadium with early goals in each half.

The Yorkshire club took a sixth-minute lead through Matty Blair, before Elliot Lee nodded in a deserved equaliser on the stroke of half-time.

The Hatters had created several good chances both before the break and afterwards, but Ben Whiteman’s deflected strike 35 seconds into the second half proved decisive to secure all three points for Rovers, who moved level on points with the play-off places in seventh while the Town dropped to 11th.

Jones made two changes to his starting line-up from last week’s 1-1 draw at Wycombe, midfielder Jorge Grant and forward Harry Cornick coming back into the side, with James Justin and Andrew Shinnie missing out.

Leeds United loanee Eunan O'Kane was named among the substitutes, the injury that forced him off before half-time of the Checkatrade Trophy win over Brighton on Tuesday not hindering his involvement.

Goalkeeper Harry Isted - who made his first start for the club in midweek - was also included on a league teamsheet for the first time with Marek Stech requiring surgery on his hernia, while Aaron Jarvis was also one of Jones' game changers following his goal in the 2-1 win over the Seagulls.

The Hatters fell behind in the first half for the sixth time in seven matches this season when Matty Blair was allowed to run unchallenged from the right touchline and bend a 20-yard shot past Shea in the sixth minute.

Elliot Lee looked to get the Town back on terms immediately, turning smartly on a short corner from Grant, but his shot was blocked.

And after James Shea had saved a James Coppinger volley in the 12th minute, the Hatters started to create a series of good opportunities, Collins seeing a shot from left side of area, saved by Marko Marosi on 17 minutes before the Rovers keeper got down low by his left post to push Grant’s 25 yard free-kick away, after Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu has been fouled.

Rovers left-back Danny Andrew ventured forward to fire a left-footed shot way over the bar in the 23rd minute, but there was little more to see of the hosts as an attacking threat as the Town took control.

Lee fed Collins into the box in the 25th minute, but his angled drive was straight at Marosi, then the Town striker played Potts to the left-byline to stand up a lovely cross to the far post, but Andrew did well to head out from under the bar as Lee looked to pounce.

Just after the half-hour it was Stacey’s turn to make headway down the right, but his low cross from the right edge of the area was just too far in front of Grant sliding in the middle of the area, and Rovers managed to clear behind.

Matty Pearson had the ball in the net from the resulting corner, but was penalised for a foul on Marosi, then – in the final minute of the half – the centre-half played a key role in events that led to the equaliser.

First, the former Barnsley man found himself in unchartered territory on the right and blasted in a cross-shot that Marosi did well to fist away, only back as far as Pearson, who won a corner off Andrew’s legs.

From that set-piece on the right, Grant had a shot deflected behind off Blair’s head, then the midfielder went over to the left to deliver the corner – the Town’s ninth of the opening half – that Potts met with a firm header for Lee to nod in from close range.

It was a goal the Hatters deserved, but parity lasted just 35 seconds of the second half as they failed to clear a deep cross from Andrew on the left and Ben Whiteman lashed in a shot from the edge of the box that flew past Shea with the aid of a deflection.

Wilks went close to extending the Rovers lead on 52 minutes, curling a left-footed shot just wide of Shea’s right post, then Andrew bent one inches wide from the other side after Cornick had drawn a save from Marosi and Grant had fired well wide at the other end.

Doncaster centre-half Joe Wright went into referee Tom Nield’s notepad for a foul on Cornick to the right angle of the area, but Grant’s whipped in free-kick proved just too powerful for Potts as the left-back slid into the six-yard box looking to finish.

Mpanzu tried to inject some urgency into proceedings in the 67th minute when he surged past two Rovers defenders and kept the ball from going out of play, but his driven cross-shot from a tight angle was somehow kept out and deflected behind for another corner.

Lee attempted a curler from distance after a good break from deep inside how own half by Cornick, but his effort – after receiving a pass from Collins – proved high and wide.

The Town survived another scare in the 71st minute when Marquis pounced on a loose ball from Grant and slip by Potts to feed sub Alfie May on the right, but Coppinger’s shot was off target.

Potts got in on the left side of the area with just under 20 minutes left, but Marosi was equal to his low shot, then – seconds after O’Kane had been introduced in place of Collins – Pearson headed a Grant free-kick back across goal, but Bradley couldn’t get a clear head on it and Marosi claimed the loose ball.

Jones threw Jarvis into the fray with five minutes left, but it was a corner from the first sub, O’Kane, that led to the Town’s best chance to level a minute into injury-time, but captain Glen Rea could only steer his near-post effort into the side-netting.

 

TOWN: Shea, Stacey, Pearson, Bradley, Potts, Rea (c), Mpanzu, Grant (Jarvis 85), Lee, Cornick, Collins (O'Kane 76). Subs: Justin, McCormack, Shinnie, Sheehan, Isted (GK)

Yellows: Collins

Goals: Lee 45+1

ROVERS: Marosi, Mason, Wright, Butler (c), Andrew, Kane (J Anderson 75), Blair, Whiteman, Wilks (May 62), Coppinger (Taylor 81), Marquis. Subs: Lawlor (GK), T Anderson, Beestin, Prior.

Yellows: Wright, Blair, Marosi

Goals: Blair 6, Whiteman 46

REFEREE: Tom Nield

 ATT: 7,526 (1,013 Hatters)


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