Match analysis: Easter Monday repeat blows the League Two title race open
A strange and unwanted quirk of fate blew open the League Two title race as Doncaster Rovers lost to Blackpool in dramatic fashion.
Exactly a year ago the Tangerines scored a last gasp winner to steal all three points at the Keepmoat Stadium and hammer a significant nail into Rovers’ relegation coffin.
Yesterday they repeated that feat - courtesy of a hugely controversial stoppage time penalty - to leave Darren Ferguson’s promoted side looking over their shoulders in the race for the title.
After a disappointing return of one point from six over Easter, Rovers’ lead at the summit was cut to three points as a result of Plymouth’s 6-1 win at home to Newport County.
And although referee Carl Boyeson had a significant hand in Blackpool’s second triumph at the Keepmoat Stadium this season, following their penalty shoot-out win in the Checkatrade Trophy in December, Rovers will need to up their game during a tricky run-in against play-off challengers Wycombe Wanderers and Exeter City and relegation-threatened Hartlepool United if they are to avoid surrendering top spot.
Boyeson could certainly not be accused of being a ‘homer’ after he dished out a game-changing red card to Matty Blair, booked four Rovers players and none from Blackpool, and then awarded the visitors two penalties in the closing stages of an otherwise less than memorable tussle.
Mark Cullen, who scored the winner in the corresponding fixture last term, saw the first of those penalties come back off the foot of the post after Mathieu Baudry was rightly penalised for handball.
But there was to be no stopping Jordan Flores from the spot just moments later when he opted for power over precision and gave Blackpool’s play-off hopes a real shot in the arm.
Replays seemed to show that Will Longbottom’s foul on Will Aimson took place just outside of the area before the Blackpool defender’s momentum carried him into the box.
So there was a very justifiable feeling after the game that Rovers had been hard done to by the officials.
But, after making a decent start to the contest, there might have also been some lingering frustration that they had not capitalised on that before Blair, who was booked as early as the fourth minute, received a second yellow card for another ill-judged challenge on 52 minutes.
Joe Wright, who impressed at centre back alongside Baudry, and Alfie May both saw good efforts tipped over the bar by Sam Slocombe, who also later palmed away a Tommy Rowe piledriver.
Blackpool’s lack of ambition, and indeed invention, was surprising given their position although, after Brad Potts saw a breakaway goal ruled out for offside before the break, they did improve against Doncaster’s ten men and Nathan Delfouneso might have made more of two decent opportunities.
A man down, Rovers were forced to focus on their defensive duties but still saw Gary McSheffrey waste a good opening and Baudry go close with a backpost header.
There was no hint of the drama to come though when, with just a few minutes left on the clock, Boyeson first spotted Baudry’s raised arm in the box but Cullen failed to take advantage from the spot.
The referee then appeared to over-rule his assistant in deeming Longbottom’s foul to be inside the area and Flores this time made no mistake.