Doncaster Rovers showed their League One promotion credentials by inflicting a 4-1 thumping of previously unbeaten leaders Ipswich Town.
Paul Lambert’s side travelled to South Yorkshire in confident mood having taken 16 points from their first six matches to sit top of the league, and it didn’t look like they would be dethroned at the summit when Joe Wright’s early own goal put them ahead.
But Doncaster came back in thrilling fashion, taking the lead into half-time thanks to goals from Cameron John and Ben Whiteman, before Ipswich pressed the self-destruct button by gifting further goals to Whiteman and Fejiri Okenabirhie.
Story of the match
Both teams look to play with a similar style and the same 4-3-3 shape, but Doncaster were second-best in the opening periods of the game as their desire to play out from the back and the high position of their full-backs saw them caught out by the Ipswich press.
Ipswich's attack is too good to turn down a string of chances and they punished their opponents after a quarter of an hour. as Alan Judge found the advancing Luke Chambers down the right and the captain’s dangerous cross was diverted by Doncaster defender Wright into his own net.
Up until then, Rovers had struggled to pass the ball even towards the half-way line, but they gradually regained some control of possession and moved it better.
Their first good chance came after pressure from Okenabirhie saw goalkeeper Tomas Holy’s attempted clearance diverted to Josh Sims, one of two on-loan players making a first start along with Matt Smith. The Southampton man had his shot blocked and the Manchester City loanee’s follow-up was sent over.
Doncaster remained patient and intricate play brought the leveller. The ball was teased around the edge of the area and then, with one quick pass, Smith had played in John, who produced an emphatic finish for a defender by smashing the ball off the underside of the crossbar and into the net.
Their second goal, shortly before half-time, was less decisive and more bizarre. Rovers skipper Whiteman lofted the ball into the box from a central position and it found its way all the way past Holy, taking a possible deflection along the way.
The speed and tempo only seemed to increase further going into the second half, with mistakes giving both sides chances shortly after the restart.
First Freddie Sears was played in after a poor clearance but could only shoot tamely at Josef Bursik, before the Ipswich defence was caught napping as a loose ball was allowed to run to put Sims through on goal, but he pulled his effort wide of the far post.
It looked like being a tight affair to the finish, but Doncaster seized a decisive grip in a dramatic three minutes. First Sims chased down a long ball, got in front of Toto Nsiala and was brought down just inside the area, with Whiteman confidently slamming home the penalty to the keeper’s left.
Soon after the restart disaster struck for the Tractor Boys again. With the home side pressing hard, Holy gave the ball away straight to Sims, who pulled it back across for Okenabirhie to compose himself and produce a very smart finish.
With that, the game was up, and Ipswich were glad to leave without further damage exactly a year on from their first defeat of the season last year, when a loss at Accrington Stanley precipitated a dramatic collapse.
Man of the match - Josh Sims (Doncaster)
Sims was brought in on deadline day, on loan from Southampton, and a player with 20 Premier League appearances under his belt looked a class above this division in his first start.
He recorded two assists but was a busy player throughout, providing an exciting outlet to attack down the left as well as putting on consistent pressure off the ball, and he has generally fitted seamlessly into Darren Moore’s system.
Signed on a three-month loan, League One has now been made very aware of his threat, as well as Doncaster’s as a whole.