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Match Report: Doncaster Rovers 1-5 Stockport County

League Two table-toppers Stockport County ran riot in South Yorkshire as they beat a poor Doncaster Rovers side at the Eco-Power Stadium. A brace from Paddy Madden and goals from Connor Lemonheigh-Evans, Tanto Olaofe and an own goal secured the three points and other results meant the Hatters extended their lead at the top to five points.


There was a sense of anxiety in the South Yorkshire air as table-toppers Stockport County were the visitors to Doncaster’s Eco-Power Stadium. Despite having not won on the road since November, Dave Challinor’s men were hot favourites against a side who are not only woefully out of form, but crying out for consistency under Grant McCann. Goals are also a problem. Only rock-bottom Forest Green have scored fewer goals in League Two than Donny and despite the away form of the visitors, you sensed this game would only go one way.

Rovers were booed off at full time after the recent home league defeat against Newport County and they made two changes here. Joseph Olowu and Kyle Hurst came back in the XI in place of Billy Waters and George Broadbent. County made three changes from their recent home win against Walsall, with Nick Powell, Paddy Madden and full-back Macaulay Southam-Hales coming into the XI in place of Ryan Croasdale, Neill Byrne and the injured Kyle Wootton.

Doncaster were looking to avoid a performance similar to the 5-0 defeat against Morecambe last month.

Doncaster were looking to avoid a similar performance to the 5-0 defeat against Morecambe last month. Picture: Scott Kelly

First Half

Doncaster’s defensive problems became apparent almost immediately as just five minutes in, County won their first corner of the game. The returning Southam-Hales crossed and there was Paddy Madden, almost unchallenged in the six yard box with a header that beat the despairing opposing goalkeeper Louis Jones. That was Madden’s 12th of the season in all competitions and six minutes later a second soon followed.

Good work down the right from Lemonheigh-Evans resulted in a cross the Rovers defence couldn’t deal with, and the ball ended up at the hapless Owen Bailey who turned into his own net. That was the Donny midfielder’s first own goal of his career. Just minutes earlier, Bailey missed a gilt edge chance to equalise as his glancing header from a Ben Close free kick went just wide.

Doncaster though continued to struggle to get a foot on the ball in the early stages, and interceptions or misplaced passes were met with huge groans and jeers from the 5,500+ home support. They did have a half chance through Kyle Hurst but it became apparent that Stockport would soon add a third, and they did. 33 minutes were on the clock when Southam-Hales again whipped in a corner which was met by the head of Lemonheigh-Evans, who was only making his second appearance since a loan spell with AFC Wimbledon. Like Madden’s earlier, not a single Doncaster players rose with the Stockport man and he was, again, unchallenged in the six yard box to make it 3-0 and put the game seemingly out of Doncaster’s reach already.

The third goal was met with jeers again from the Rovers faithful with the 1,600+ away support enjoying their day out. Chants of ‘We can see you sneaking out!’ would have only enraged the home fans further.

There were a few half chances before the half time break, with home goalkeeper Jones getting down low to save well from Odin Bailey, as he went one on one hoping to put the game well and truly to bed. But both sides went in at half time with the score at 0-3.


Louis Jones did well to parry Odin Bailey’s free kick out for a corner. Picture: Scott Kelly.

Second half

Grant McCann clearly wasn’t happy. He made a quadruple change at half time. Lincoln City loanee Hakeem Adelakun came on for his league debut. He replaced Hurst, whilst the ineffective Joe Ironside was replaced by the huge presence of Conor Carty, with the Bolton loanee looking for his first goal for the club.

McCann’s half time would have gone completely out of the window though as 22 seconds into the second half, the visitors had a fourth. Great work again from Southam-Hales on the right as he ran at the Donny defence as he crossed for the unplayable Madden, who made it goal number 13 in all competitions as he headed past Jones. The luckless goalkeeper did save the effort but the power from the header was too strong and the ball found the back of the net. That is seven in seven league games for Madden. That was Rovers 14th league goal conceded in five league matches and it was soon to be 15.

55 minutes were on the clock when the Hatters added a fifth. Top goalscorer Tanto Olaofe got in on the act. A low cross from Lemonheigh-Evans from the right meant that Olaofe had to stoop low and guide his header past Jones, securing goal number 15 in the league in the process. Only Jake Young, Matt Smith and Macaulay Langstaff have scored more than Olaofe in the fourth tier this season.

A despondent looking McCann knew the game was up but would have been pleased when Rovers grabbed a fortunate, albeit undeserved goal just after the hour mark. A Ben Close cross was met by half time substitute Harrison Biggins, who beat the largely untroubled Ben Hinchliffe mainly due to a communication breakdown between himself and Ethan Bristow.

Rovers improved after that but still didn’t really trouble the Stockport goal, with the away side threatening to bag more goals. Madden had a chance to secure his hat-trick in added time but he blazed over. As did Adelakun for the home side late on.

But 1-5 is how it finished with the crowd seemingly wanting to stay just to boo the team off at full time. Other results on the day meant Rovers edged precariously closer to the drop zone. They are now just six points clear of safety after 23rd placed Sutton United picked up an important point.

County however appear to have gotten over a mid-season blip and look well on their way to promotion to League One. The club have kept a large contingent of the players who were involved in the play-off final defeat to Carlisle last May and appeared to be stronger, with Dave Challinor’s side now five points clear at the top after having secured their first win at the Eco-Power Stadium and their first victory at Doncaster since 1969.


Rovers were playing for pride but improved after a goal from Harrison Biggins. Picture: Scott Kelly

Post Match reaction

As expected, Doncaster manager Grant McCann was unhappy with his sides performance. McCann was ‘baffled’ by the dip in performance following the recent victory over Wigan Athletic in the Bristol Street Motors Trophy.

“It’s been a theme of the season – we can be so good one game and then drop massively in the next” he told Doncaster Rovers Media.

“We were so good against Wigan in the second half of the last game and then we dropped to these levels.”

“I actually don’t know myself and I can’t put my finger on exactly why we looked so lethargic and so slow out of the blocks. We just never gave ourselves an opportunity with the way we conceded the goals and we looked toothless as well.

McCann also confirmed he will be ‘seeking answers’ with the club facing a quick turnaround with a short visit to Bradford City in the BSM trophy on Tuesday night.

“We have had a good week. Today makes it a great week.” Stockport manager Dave Challinor was delighted with the five goals scored away from home.

”That early second half goal really knocked the stuffing and allowed us to go onto a comfortable. A brilliant all round performance. All positives. No negatives.” A jubilant Challinor told Stockport County Media.

Probably the best performance he has put in in a Stockport shirt. We need to keep him fit and he has ridiculous quality for the level”. Challinor was also full of praise for Paddy Madden who collected a brace this afternoon.

Key match information

Referee: David Rock

Venue: Eco-Power Stadium, Doncaster

Attendance: 7,469 (1,625 away)

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