Carlisle United 1-2 Doncaster Rovers: Whiteman sees off battling Cumbrians
Ben Whiteman scored twice to help Doncaster Rovers past Carlisle United in the FA Cup. Photo: George Wood/Getty Images.

Two first-half goals from Ben Whiteman were enough for League One side Doncaster Rovers to defeat Carlisle United and secure their place in the third round of the FA Cup.

Doncaster’s skipper netted twice in the space of eight minutes, with the second goal particularly impressive, to put the favourites in control at the break.

The League Two club battled impressively to stay in the tie and Jon Mellish levelled with 12 minutes to go, but that was the only one of 20 shots that they could convert.

Story of the match 

Carlisle made a positive start, chasing and harrying with relish and not allowing their opponents to settle in the opening stages. The final pass was harder to come by though and their first efforts were from distance, with Gime Toure’s drive blocked by Whiteman.

The one chance they will truly regret not taking came midway through the first half, when a Josh Kayode throw-in managed to bounce through to their top scorer Mellish. A revelation this season, he is the one player they will have wanted the opportunity to fall to, but he lifted it over the bar.

Instead Doncaster started to get chances in an end-to-end contest, with Tom Anderson’s ball diverted by Reece James into the path of Fejiri Okenabirhie only for Callum Guy to block his effort, while visiting goalkeeper Joe Lumley made his first save to deny Omari Patrick’s snap shot.

Just past the half-hour, the deadlock was broken. Guy was dispossessed by Taylor Richards and Josh Sims brought the ball forward down the right, passing to James whose ball was smartly flicked by Matt Smith for the unmarked Whiteman to sweep in the opener.

That was a good finish, and his second eight minutes later was excellent. Goalkeeper Paul Farman had just made a save to keep out a James effort, but could do little as Doncaster kept up the pressure and Whiteman was given the space to look up and curl a delicious strike into the corner.

After Okenabirhie glances a Danny Amos cross wide shortly after the restart, Carlisle began to grow back into the game and enjoy promising spells, but the goal just eluded them. Lumley beat away a fierce Patrick shot, while Joe Riley hit a piledriver but it was always rising.

Sims aimed narrowly wide after a dangerous run as Rovers looked for the goal that would kill the game off for certain, but they would have to see it out the hard way with Lumley called on again to deny Toure and Mellish missing another glorious chance, hooking wide from a free-kick routine.

It seemed all the effort would come to nothing, but with 12 minutes left they finally had hope. Lumley made one great save to push away a Rhys Bennett header from a corner, but from the next Aaron Hayden’s nod towards goal was blocked straight to the feet of Mellish and he couldn’t miss a tap-in.

With the match still just as open as it had been throughout, Carlisle had plenty of chances to threaten in the final third, the best put wide by Kayode from a Mellish cross. They threw everything at it to the end, but Gavin Reilly put the last effort over and they had to settle for a highly creditable defeat.

Man of the match: Ben Whiteman (Doncaster)

Whiteman is so often the crucial figure in controlling the game for Doncaster, and although his task was made difficult in that regard he still made himself the difference with two fine finishes.