Omar Bogle’s goal was almost identical to the early first-half opener scored by teammate Tom Anderson, and their two strikes saw Doncaster across the line despite Plymouth’s resurgence late in the tie.
The win handed Rovers a comfortable five-point cushion over seventh-placed Accrington Stanley, who are pushing for a spot in the playoffs. Meanwhile, Argyle were knocked down to 14th as League One’s tight midtable saw yet another reshuffling.
The hosts made a single change after Tuesday’s win over Portsmouth as 20-year-old Taylor Richards replaced Jon Taylor in midfield.
Argyle brought four changes on the almost-600-mile round trip to Yorkshire as Niall Ennis, Jerome Opoku, Ben Reeves and Conor Grant returned to the starting line-up. January signing Ryan Hardie was dropped to the bench, while Sam Woods serves a suspension after being dismissed in the midweek loss to Northampton Town.
Story of the match
The match began with immense intensity.
Doncaster took the lead after just seven minutes when captain Anderson’s near-post run was spotted by Rovers legend James Coppinger. The corner – which had been awarded after Argyle goalkeeper Michael Cooper produced a great stop from a deflected effort – was inch-perfect and 27-year-old Anderson met the delivery with force, sending the ball crashing in off the crossbar.
Rovers built on their early lead as they took a firm stranglehold on the tie. The hosts worked the ball beautifully and could have doubled their lead before the 15-minute mark when Cooper was called on once more to produce a smart stop off Richards’ shot from range, which looked like it was headed for the bottom-left corner.
Argyle were very much on the back foot and unforced errors crept into their game as frustration grew. Their forwards were contained well by the disciplined Donny defence and a lapse in communication saw a number of potential moves break down before the final third.
Plymouth captain Joe Edwards held his head in his hands as the half-hour mark ticked by after he squandered an opportunity to tap the ball into an empty net. The 30-year-old was gifted the chance by a wicked deflection which took Rovers gloves-man Louis Jones out of the equation. Seemingly startled by the situation he found himself in, and, with retreating defenders closing down from behind, Edwards snatched at the ball and lofted it over the crossbar.
Much in the same vein as they began the first, Doncaster flew out of the blocks in the second half. Manager Andy Butler introduced the fresh legs of 19-year-old Scott Robertson, who moved well to find the gaps in Argyle’s brittle defence.
Two minutes after the restart, Rovers doubled their lead with an almost identical goal to the opener. 40-year-old Coppinger found space to cross deep on the left flank and his delivery landed perfectly on the head of an unmarked Bogle, who made no mistake as he turned home his second goal of the season.
The deficit was slashed three minutes later as Argyle found the net through January signing Niall Ennis. The youngster latched onto a neat ball from Conor Grant and was allowed enough time to hook the ball beyond Jones.
Suddenly, the Pilgrims were looking the better side as they found their feet and enjoyed a fruitful attacking spell for the first time in the hour that had passed. Following some wonderful wing play from Luke Jephcott, Grant saw an effort parried by Jones. The 22-year-old ‘keeper’s touch failed to alleviate the agonising pressure as the ball bounced on the goal line, but relief came as a returning defender smashed clear.
Visiting boss Ryan Lowe rolled the dice with just shy of 20 minutes left to play as he made a flurry of substitutions which saw Panutche Camara, Adam Lewis and Lewis Macleod make their entrance.
Doncaster were now well under the cosh, and they sat deep as the plucky Pilgrims unleashed an onslaught of attacks. Resilient defending from an organised back four kept the lead intact despite the fresh-legged forwards enjoying time and space on the ball.
Takeaway from the match
Doncaster’s goal early in the first half rattled Argyle, who were yet to settle after their long journey from the West Country. Errors set in and the hosts were unfortunate to not be several up at the break. Bogle’s goal in the second half allowed Rovers to sit back, dig in and defend their lead, which they did with amiable results.
Man of the match
James Coppinger – Doncaster Rovers
Rovers legend Coppinger played an excellent game that appeared to roll back the years. His breathless performance was credited with two crucial assists which pushed Doncaster to their second consecutive 2-1 victory.