Any thoughts that a looming FA Cup 5th Round tie this coming Sunday might cause Rovers to take their eye off the ball were dispelled by a professional performance as they completed a League double over Southend United.
Rovers were ahead after 14 minutes; Ben Whiteman fed James Coppinger whose pinpoint centre was headed past Nathan Bishop by John Marquis, scoring his 22nd goal in all competitions. Rovers could have extended their lead before the interval. Bishop did well to push away Ali Crawford’s waspish free-kick and from the resulting corner visiting defender John White sliced the ball against his own crossbar.
Rovers had to wait until the 56th minute to double the advantage. Herbie Kane found Mallik Wilks on the right and the Leeds United loanee cut inside and fired the ball through a defender’s legs, beating the unsighted Bishop at the near post. Marquis had a couple of opportunities to add to his tally, heading Danny Andrew’s free-kick against the bar and having a shot blocked on the line after good work by Wilks.
The third goal, seventeen minutes from time, came when Marquis turned provider. He latched onto Crawford’s sumptuous pass and burst into the area before squaring for the unmarked Kane to tap home. With six points from two games Rovers’ league business for the week is completed successfully. Now they can turn their attention to the visit of Crystal Palace and a sold-out Keepmoat Stadium on Sunday.
by John Coyle