Result: Port Vale 3 Doncaster Rovers 0: Rovers’ run crashes at Vale

Mark Marshall scores past Doncaster's keeper Stephen Bywater'' Phoyo: Andrew Roe
Mark Marshall scores past Doncaster's keeper Stephen Bywater'' Phoyo: Andrew Roe

Rovers’ superb run of form was brought to a halt after a poor showing at Port Vale.

First half strikes from Mark Marshall and Frederic Veseli saw Rovers punished for a lacklustre performance by the hosts who then sat on their lead rather comfortably before Byron Moore netted three minutes from time to wrap it up.

Conditions were poor at Vale Park, and the manner in which the home side handled them was key to their victory.

Rovers on the other hand were slow to settle in and struggled to find the rhythm of recent months as the ball repeatedly slowed on a heavy surface.

Rovers had gradually eased into the game after Marshall had given the hosts an early lead on the break

But they were hit with a suckerpunch on 38 minutes when Veseli went for goal with Stephen Bywater caught cold.

Paul Dickov threw the kitchen sink at Vale after the break, sending on three strikers.

But the final ball continued to let his side down while mistakes in possession saw the hosts maintain relative comfort despite coming under pressure.

Vale settled the quicker in regular hail stone storms and took the lead after six minutes, albeit through a rapid counterattack.

Kyle Bennett gave the ball away carelessly in the middle of the Vale half and the hosts broke quickly.

Tom Pope, on the right, spotted the run of Marshall who nipped in behind Jamie McCombe and slotted past Bywater.

Vale almost doubled their lead, again through Marshall, when his cross-cum-shot needed a fine save from Bywater to keep it out.

Rovers were careless in possession, unable to find their usual rhytmic short passing game in the conditions.

It took them almost half an hour to find their feet. From there, they began to advance into Vale territory, playing neat passes around the box but lacking a killer final ball.

Bennett brought the ball down well in the box and found space for a shot which deflected wide in their best chance of the period.

But after a long period of possession, they were hit when Vale grabbed the second.

Veseli found himself in space almost 40 yards out and went for goal, with the ball skidding along the surface and sliding under Bywater to find the corner.

Curtis Main was sent on at the break as Dickov put two men up front but any joy in the final third was few and far between.

Abdul Razak - handed his full debut in place of the injured Paul Keegan - fired a superb strike on goal but was denied by Chris Neal in one of their better chances.

There was a let off when Bywater appeared to handle outside the box, only for the assistant to be unmoved.

Frustration only grew for Rovers as the game wore on with them seeing plenty of the ball but proving wasteful in the final third.

And a bad afternoon was ended on another low note when Moore skipped past hapless Reece Wabara and slammed in from a tight angle to wrap up the three points with three minutes to go.

Port Vale: Neal, Veseli, Inniss, Robertson, Dickinson, Moore, Brown, O’Connor, Marshall (Birchall 85), Williamson (Dodds 72), Pope.

Subs: Johnson, Yates, McGivern, O’Sullivan, Lines.

Rovers: Bywater, Wabara, Butler, McCombe, Stevens, Razak (Ikpeazu 64), Bennett, Wellens, Furman, Forrester (Main 46), Tyson.

Subs: Marosi, McCullough, Evina, Whitehouse, Robinson.

Referee: Keith Stroud

Cards: Yellow: Inniss 57 (Vale), McCombe 23, Tyson 57, Furman 79 (all Rovers).

Att: 5,713 (740).