Six days can be a long time in football, especially at this time of the season. Jeered off after a Boxing Day battering at Tranmere, Rovers earned a standing ovation on New Year’s Day after beating in-form Carlisle United 2-1. It was perhaps Rovers’ best display of the season to date.
Fortified by scoring four goals in midweek against Rochdale, Rovers took the game by the scruff of the neck and led after five minutes. George Miller’s speculative cross-shot was miskicked by Carlisle’s Owen Senior and fell to James Maxwell, who beat Tomas Holy from a narrow angle. It was the left-back’s first senior goal in England. Rovers continued to dominate the first half but had to be satisfied with a 1-0 lead despite an effort from Ben Close that clipped Holy’s crossbar.
Doncaster should have doubled their advantage on the hour when Maxwell’s fierce drive was parried by Holy and Kyle Hurst fired wide of an open goal. Seven minutes later Rovers did make it 2-0. Harrison Biggins played a delightful pass through the channel to Miller who went wide, pulled defence and goalkeeper out of position and crossed for Hurst to stab home from close range.
Carlisle finally arose from their slumbers with three minutes of normal time remaining, Toby Sho-Silva knocking down a long ball for Kristian Dennis to score from close range making it 2-1. It meant a nervous finish for Rovers, but any result other than a home win would have been a travesty.
by John Coyle