Full time: Doncaster Rovers 1 Port Vale 3

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Three goals conceded and a man sent off told the story as Rovers’ bright start to the season was eclipsed by a horror show against Port Vale at the Keepmoat.

First half strikes from Ben Williamson, Tom Pope and Carl Dickinson stunned Paul Dickov’s men who had opened their campaign so positively.

Rovers' Harry Foreester takes on Vale's Chris Birchall

Rovers' Harry Foreester takes on Vale's Chris Birchall

A fine effort from distance from Kyle Bennett midway through the second half ensured Rovers somewhat saved face but Harry Forrester was then controversially sent off for an alleged foul on Vale keeper Sam Johnson to only add to the gloom.

The game began in lively fashion though both sides struggled to create anything of real note in the final third.

But once Vale opened the scoring on 27 minutes, the afternoon went dramatically downhill for the hosts.

Jed Steer reacted superbly to parry a near-post header from a corner but the ball fell into the path of Williamson – who netted a hat-trick in midweek – and he nodded home from close range.

Rovers' Nathan Tyson goes round SamJohnson but cant get it in goal

Rovers' Nathan Tyson goes round SamJohnson but cant get it in goal

Tom Pope doubled Port Vale’s lead on 39 minutes. Williamson received the ball from a throw and laid off to the former Rotherham man who curled the ball home superbly from a tight angle.

And within a matter of seconds the game had drifted even further away from Rovers as skipper Carl Dickinson thrashed home the third.

A corner on 41 minutes was only half cleared out to the edge of the area and skipper Dickinson lashed a half volley through a crowded box into the bottom corner with Steer certainly appearing to be impeded.

Dickov made two half time substitutions but it was his third change, switching Bennett for Curtis Main, that brought the most reward when the lively wing man netted 15 minutes from time.

A dipping long-range shot from 25 yards beat Johnson and fell just under the crossbar to give Rovers faint hope.

Any hopes for a dramatic comeback were extinguished when Forrester was sent off on 78 minutes.

The red card appeared to be given after the wide man attempted to shoot as keeper Johnson went down to smother the ball.

A slightly exaggerated reaction by Johnson did no favours for Forrester who was dismissed after referee Geoff Eltringham consulted his assistant.

Cedric Evina shaved the top of the crossbar with a drifting cross as Rovers continued to push forward but it ultimately was an afternoon to forget.

Rovers: Steer, Wabara, Evina, Jones, McCullough, Coppinger, Furman (De Val 46), Keegan, Forrester, Tyson (Robinson 46), Main (Bennett 65).

Not used: Marosi, Whitehouse, Wakefield, Askins.

Port Vale: Johnson, McGivern, Veseli, Dickinson, Duffy, Birchall, Marshall, O’Connor, Lines, Pope, Williamson.

Subs: Neal, Robertson, Daniel, Dodds, Brown, Jennings, Lloyd

Att: 6,437