Ex­eter City earned a su­perb win at Don­caster Rovers

Dar­ren’s men drop to sec­ond

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE - By Steven Chicken

DON­CASTER may have been the first side to seal their pro­mo­tion to League One this sea­son, but there was a fu­ne­real at­mos­phere at the Keep­moat Sta­dium as a third suc­ces­sive de­feat saw them slip off the top of the ta­ble.

The home side had hoped to cel­e­brate with the League Two tro­phy, and with Ply­mouth be­hind and Don­caster level at the break, the stage was set for Rovers to claim it yes­ter­day.

But Ex­eter’s sec­ond-half show­ing ru­ined Rovers’ party, with David Wheeler and Liam McAlin­den seal­ing a play-off place for Paul Tis­dale’s men; while Ply­mouth’s come­back against Crewe puts the Pilgrims top go­ing into the fi­nal day.

Dar­ren Fer­gu­son has fin­ished sec­ond in League Two and League One with Peter­bor­ough, as well as go­ing up through the play-offs, but has never won a league ti­tle.

And the 45-year-old was dis­con­so­late to see Rovers throw it away after sit­ting top for the past 20 games.

He said: “I’m gut­ted, bit­terly dis­ap­pointed. We’ve worked so hard to get to this point and then in the penul­ti­mate game we’ve had the worst re­sult of the sea­son.

“So at the mo­ment I’m very raw and very dis­ap­pointed.

“To take one point from four games in any part of the sea­son, but par­tic­u­larly this part, you don’t get it back be­cause ob­vi­ously there’s not enough games left.

“It’s an in­cred­i­bly dis­ap­pointed dress­ing room and we might never get in the po­si­tion we’ve had to be cham­pi­ons of a league, be­cause that’s gone now – Ply­mouth are prob­a­bly go­ing to win the league.”

The Keep­moat Sta­dium was party cen­tral at both ends dur­ing the first half, and the at­mos­phere was only en­hanced by news of Crewe tak­ing the lead at Ply­mouth.

But with Ex­eter’s play-off place not yet con­firmed, they were never go­ing to give Don­caster an easy time of it, and they took the lead in stylish fash­ion.

Cap­tain Jor­dan Moore-Tay­lor ham­mered home Ryan Har­ley’s clever lay-off in a well-prac­tised free kick rou­tine, giv­ing Ian Lawlor no chance.

James Cop­pinger lev­elled things up with a thun­der­ous vol­ley ten min­utes later, con­nect­ing per­fectly with Tommy Rowe’s cross at the back post.

Things started turn­ing sour for the hosts after the break as Joe Wright clearly han­dled the ball in­side the six-yard box after Craig Al­cock hacked the ball off the line.

Lawlor saved both Har­ley’s spot kick and his re­sult­ing fol­low-up ef­fort, but Wheeler scored on the third at­tempt to put City back ahead.

The Rovers faith­ful were qui­eted by news of Ply­mouth tak­ing the lead – both in their game and in the ti­tle race – and things got worse still as sub­sti­tute McAlin­den fired home from Ol­lie Watkins’ square ball.

Hav­ing promised to come out for some post-match cel­e­bra­tions with the sup­port­ers, the poor Don­caster play­ers had to down­heart­edly traipse around a near-empty sta­dium for the few hun­dred fans who had stayed be­hind.

Ex­eter man­ager Paul Tis­dale was de­lighted to have con­firmed a play-off place, with a win that will also give City con­fi­dence in their pro­mo­tion push.

He said: “We’re de­lighted, re­ally re­ally happy.

“I’m not go­ing to lie to you, we’ve had a very pleas­ant five min­utes in the dress­ing room, but we just want to make sure this is not our best mo­ment. We need some nor­mal­ity now be­tween now and next week and the week after, and to stay on the job.

“Ev­ery­one did their bit and there were some big big per­for­mances out there, and we’re go­ing to need more of that go­ing into the next – hope­fully – four games.

“All round, it was a re­ally com­pe­tent per­for­mance and I’m very pleased.”

DOWN IN THE DUMPS: Don­caster Rovers boss Dar­ren Fer­gu­son can’t hide his frus­tra­tion

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

THIRD TIME LUCKY: David Wheeler puts the Gre­cians ahead after Ryan Har­ley’s penalty was saved to the de­light of Lloyd James, in­set

EYE ON THE BALL: James Cop­pinger scores a vol­ley

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.