VIDEO: Southend United 0 Doncaster Rovers 3 - Match verdict & highlights

Rovers players celebrate Aaron Taylor-Sinclair's goal
Rovers players celebrate Aaron Taylor-Sinclair's goal

Rampant Rovers zoomed back into the top half of the Sky Bet League One table for the first time since August as they tore Southend apart at Roots Hall.

Saturday turned into another happy away-day for Darren Ferguson’s men as a second straight success was also a sixth without defeat on the road.

Many of the near 400-strong travelling army that made the trip south to Essex will have feared a stern test of Rovers’ credentials heading into this latest fixture.

The Shrimpers may have been beaten by Millwall a week earlier, but they were handily placed in seventh in the standings pre kick-off and seemingly on course to push hard to secure a dream second successive promotion.

However, Rovers dominated the game almost from start to finish as it was they who warmed up for Saturday’s big FA Cup date by easing up from 15th to 11th in the third tier table, just six points shy of Peterborough in the final play-off position.

Man of the moment Andy Williams, Aaron Taylor-Sinclair and Nathan Tyson were on target in a performance which will have sent those South Yorkshire fans home happy as they made the long journey back home.

Rovers' Thorsten Stuckmann punches clear

Rovers' Thorsten Stuckmann punches clear

Rovers went into the game in decent nick of course, with the 2-1 victory at Oldham last Monday extending their impressive recent away run.

Boss Ferguson made two alterations to his starting line-up, however, with Luke McCullough returning to join a strong-looking five-man midfield and Tyson getting the nod to support Williams at the sharp end.

Those two came in at the expense of the injured Felipe Mattioni and Harry Middleton on a bright and breezy Essex afternoon.

The Shrimpers had been thumped 4-0 at home by Millwall in their previous game five days earlier, but colourful boss Phil Brown opted to make just the single change to his starting XI.

Nathan Tyson blasts Rovers into a 3-0 lead with his penalty strike

Nathan Tyson blasts Rovers into a 3-0 lead with his penalty strike

Wide-man David Worrall was dropped to the bench, with loan ace Glen Rea being given the chance to step up.

Rovers turned in another excellent first half showing, and they deservedly led at the interval.

However, the breakthrough didn’t arrive until the 44th minute when the lethal Andy Williams struck in predatory fashion once again.

As the game was heading towards the interval, the recalled Tyson darted menacingly down the flank before crossing in for Williams, who somehow lashed his 10th goal in 12 matches - and his 13th of a cracking season so far - into the roof of the Southend net from the acutest of angles.

Conor Grant celebrates Rovers win against Southend

Conor Grant celebrates Rovers win against Southend

Earlier Rovers had produced a blistering start to the game with Craig Alcock and skipper James Coppinger both forcing Shrimpers’ ‘keeper Dan Bentley into smart saves.

At the other end the hosts replied with Jack Payne seeing an effort blocked, but back came Rovers and Andy Butler nodded narrowly over the top after he leapt highest to meet a cross from Conor Grant.

Coppinger was then thwarted by another decent stop from Bentley as Rovers pressed hard for an opener, though they were almost stunned in the 38th minute when Thorsten Stuckmann was forced into action to keep out a wicked deflected strike from Payne.

Even after Williams struck both sides went close to first-half stoppage-time strikes.

Williams almost doubled his tally a minute after his goal when Bentley saved his well-struck shot, while Southend went close with David Mooney almost beating Stuckmann from close range.

It had been a frantic end to a terrific first period in which both sides played some eye-catching football.

If anything the start to the second period was even more frantic, with Rovers battering Southend almost into submission as they were to storm three goals clear before the hour mark was up.

Paul Keegan almost doubled Rovers lead just two minutes after the restart, only for his well-hit shot to strike the outside of a post before drifting behind for a goal-kick.

The ever-dangerous Williams then saw a header hacked off the line, before the visitors did grab the second goal they had threatened in the 55th minute.

It was another smartly-taken effort, with Taylor-Sinclair arriving at the back post to crash home Grant’s cross high into the roof of the net as he registered his second goal of the campaign.

Tyson then clocked his fifth of the season from the penalty spot just three minutes later.

Williams had been clumsily bundled over by Adam Thompson, leaving referee Mr Collins no option other than to award a penalty.

Tyson stepped up and coolly beat Bentley, and Rovers were all-but home and hosed.

Rovers came close to stretching their lead in the closing stages, with Keegan planting a free-kick narrowly wide and Cedric Evina seeing a shot saved at the near post by Bentley, but the Shrimpers deserve a little credit as they never gave up their chase for a consolation goal.

Sub Worrall’s cross was headed straight at Stuckmann by Ryan Leonard, while Ben Coker also ought to have done better when he failed to beat the ‘keeper from close range.

It wasn’t to be Southend’s day, but it was certainly Doncaster’s as they will now bounce into next weekend’s feverishly-anticipated Cup date with Stoke after sealing this demolition job.

SOUTHEND (4-4-2): Bentley 5; White 4, Thompson 4, Barrett 5, Coker 6; Rea 4 (Deegan 53, 5), Leonard 7, Atkinson 5 (Worrall 41, 6), Payne 7; Mooney 5 (Pigott 70, 5), Hunt 5.

Subs not used: T Smith, Prosser, McLaughlin, O’Neill.

BOOKED: Leonard (50), Thompson (57), White (58), Deegan (90).

DONCASTER (3-5-1-1): Stuckmann 7; Alcock 6, Butler 7, Taylor-Sinclair 8; McCullough 6, Coppinger 7 (Middleton 82, 6), Keegan 8, Grant 8, Evina 7 (Lund 81, 6); Tyson 7; Williams 8.

Subs not used: Marosi, Chaplow, MacKenzie, J McKay, Mandeville.

BOOKED: Alcock (84).

REF: Lee Collins (Surrey).


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