Tom Eaves struck a late winner to see Hull City go four points clear at the top of Sky Bet League One as they saw off Yorkshire rivals Doncaster Rovers 2-1 in a match the hosts should have won more comfortably. Josh Magennis opened the scoring with a piledriver of a free kick on 27 minutes, before Tyreece John-Jules equalized on 81 minutes for Rovers with their only shot on target. Eaves struck with only three minutes to go to leave Grant McCann beaming at the final whistle.
Story of the match
Doncaster got the game underway and it didn't take long for the first foul of the game. Magennis was penalised after 30 seconds for a late challenge in what promised to be a physical affair. The first shot came just before the four minute mark, with Jacob Greaves blocking bravely to see the away side win a corner. After a counter attack, Hakeeb Adelakun should have done better with plenty of time to pick a shot or a pass - but in the end neither really came as Rovers smuggled the ball away.
Magennis earned himself a talking to after seven minutes after three fouls, and was warned no more from the referee. Mallik Wilks had City's first chance at the back post but shot just wide on nine minutes. His hard work a minute later earned a corner, but George Honeyman's delivery was poor and Rovers cleared easily. Wilks again beat his man on the left hand side soon after and pulled the ball across but Josh Emmanuel's shot didn't trouble the Doncaster goal.
Wilks was clearly wanting to prove a point against his former club, and drove forward - nutmegging Sims in the process - and spraying the ball out to Emmanuel on 17 minutes. His shot was blocked for a corner, but Magennis' header from the resulting Callum Elder delivery was high and wide. Sims had a cross-shot that nearly troubled Matt Ingram's goal before Ben Whiteman's dangerous cross just evaded the Doncaster players in the Hull City area.
On 25 minutes, patient Hull build up saw Wilks draw the foul on the edge of the area to set up the best chance of the game so far. Honeyman rolled the ball to Magennis who blasted home into the bottom corner in a routine straight out of the training ground. Doncaster felt aggrieved about the foul as they thought Wilks went down easily, but the free kick was well dispatched.
Wilks drove down the line yet again soon after and was upended, and this irked the Hull players as no card came - despite Richie Smallwood being booked for a similar infringement minutes before. On 34 minutes, there was a triple whammy of chances for the home side. Greg Docherty hit the post before Adelakun's shot was blocked, and then Joe Lumley saved well from Wilks as Hull pushed for a second. It was very much Hull who looked like the side who were going to get the next goal, but as the half-time whistle went it remained 1-0 to the Tigers.
Hull City got the second half underway and it didn't take long for Doncaster to come forward and win a corner. Magennis had to clear from the resulting set piece as the away side looked to get back into the game. Good play from Emmanuel and Adelakun on 52 minutes drew a corner for Hull, but Rovers cleared their lines before Wilks was seemingly brought down by Lumley, but the forward went into the book for apparent simulation.
Despite the Hull domination of the first half, Doncaster were having much more of the ball in the second period. However, they couldn't quite get their pressure to pay off. Greaves was somehow penalized for being bodychecked after a good drive forward, with the young centre half again impressing in his debut season for his home town club.
Keane Lewis-Potter came on for the Tigers as Hull started to see more of the ball after the hour mark, and Emmanuel won a free kick that almost saw Lewis-Potter and Alfie Jones combine in an unorthodox fashion before Jones was penalized for a high foot. Both sides saw a lot of the ball but were unable to break through the respective defenses as the last ten minute approached.
A good counter attack on 78 minutes from Hull saw Lewis-Potter and Magennis combine for what should have been 2-0, but Lumley saved well with his feet. Lewis-Potter couldn't convert the rebound and Hull's wasteful nature came back to haunt them as Doncaster equalized through substitute Tyreece John-Jules.
As soon as Hull conceded though, they retook the lead in the 87th minute. A cleared corner was driven back in and spilled by Lumley for substitute Tom Eaves to smash home from close range to edge them ahead. It proved to be the winning goal as Doncaster couldn't muster another effort on target and Hull City stay top of Sky Bet League One - four points clear of Lincoln City.
Takeaways from the match
Hull's lack of cutting edge almost costs them
The Tigers dominated the game for large periods, but failed to add to their solitary goal despite having chances to make it two or even three nil. Doncaster grabbed an equalizer with nine minutes to go, but Tom Eaves was the hero for City as he made the most of poor goalkeeping to smash the ball home to make it 2-1 just minutes from the final whistle. City will need to be sharper in front of goal if they are to cement their place at the top of the league over the next few games, as this could have been a case of two points dropped.
Doncaster battle but come away empty handed
Rovers battled hard but were ultimately outclassed by their Yorkshire rivals who would have won by a greater margin had their finishing been sharper. Darren Moore's side had only one shot on target in the whole game and his side will need to be better if they are to make the playoffs come the end of the season.
Mallik Wilks ran Doncaster and particularly Brad Halliday ragged, with the tricky forward clearly wanting to impress against his former club. Both Jacob Greaves and Alfie Jones looked solid at the back for the majority of the game for Hull City with Reece Burke only fit enough for the bench after his recovery from surgery. Tyreece John-Jules looked sharp when he came off the bench to equalize as Doncaster managed to ride out the Hull storm of pressure in the first half.
Hull City: Ingram; Emmanuel, A Jones, Greaves, Elder; Smallwood, Docherty, Honeyman; Adelakun, Wilks, Magennis.
Substitutes: Long, Coyle, Burke, Eaves, Slater, Scott, Lewis-Potter.
Doncaster Rovers: Lumley; James, Wright, Anderson, Halliday; Whiteman, John, Smith, Richards, Sims; Okenabirhie.
Substitutes: Jones, Coppinger, Lokilo, Butler, John-Jules, Hasani, Williams.