MATCH REPORT: Doncaster Rovers 0 Millwall 3

Not up for the fight: Frederic Piquionne comes off second best in an aerial battle with Millwall.       Picture: STEVE TAYLOR
Not up for the fight: Frederic Piquionne comes off second best in an aerial battle with Millwall. Picture: STEVE TAYLOR

THE Great Escape tune is played before every Doncaster Rovers home match.

But with every game that passes by, the club’s hopes of beating the drop look more and more remote.

Millwall bullied them into submission last night and always carried the greater threat in a one-sided contest. After the third goal went in, a section of Rovers supporters called for manager Dean Saunders head, chanting: ‘You don’t know what you are doing’ and ‘Saunders out.’

Not since January 2 have Rovers chalked up three points on home soil, a record which hardly inspires confidence that they are capable of staving off the threat of relegation. Seven Championship matches have passed since Rovers beat Barnsley and their survival hopes are hanging by a thread.

There were even ironic cheers from the home faithful when Rovers registered their first shot on target in the 79th minute through a tame header from Giles Barnes.

Having accrued just one point out of a possible nine on offer from fixtures with Reading, Derby County and fellow strugglers Millwall, Saunders now faces an uphill task to lift his players ahead of their tough looking away double-header with Southampton and Crystal Palace.

Saunders made three alterations to the side who lost 2-1 to Derby County, handing starts to James O’Connor, Sam Hird and James Hayter. Both Pascal Chimbonda and Kyle Bennett dropped out and neither player were included in the 16-man match-day squad.

Hird stepped in for Shelton Martis as the centre-half had not recovered from a hamstring problem which he re-aggravated versus the Rams.

New Millwall arrival Nick Montgomery, signed on-loan from Sheffield United until the end of the season on Monday, started on the substitutes bench. Ex-Blades striker Darius Henderson, who hails from Doncaster, spearheaded the visitors attack.

After a minute’s applause in tribute to the six soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan this month and for Bolton Wanderers midfielder Fabrice Muamba, who collapsed on Saturday, it was Millwall who took charge of the early exchanges, Andy Keogh shooting wide from distance.

James Henry then warmed the palms of Carl Ikeme but his effort lacked the power or accuracy to trouble the Rovers shot-stopper.

The pressure paid off for the visitors when they broke the deadlock on eight minutes courtesy of Keogh. The lively Henry jinked past Tommy Spurr, wearing a protective cast for his broken right hand, before delivering a glorious cross which Republic of Ireland international Keogh nodded home.

Millwall doubled their advantage five minutes later. Tottenham loanee Hary Kane picked up the ball in acres of space on the left flank and decided to let fly from 30 yards. His speculative drive went straight through Ikeme’s gloves and into the back of the net. It was the second howler in as many matches for Ikeme following his aberration for Derby’s opener last weekend.

Showing no fight or appetite for the battle in the middle of the park, Rovers were well and truly outplayed early on. It took a superb stop from Ikeme to thwart Henry in the 17th minute and Kane came close to grabbing his second when he volleyed narrowly off target after meeting Henderson’s inviting centre.

As the half wore on, Rovers improved and Hayter appeared to be brought down on the edge of the area by Jimmy Abdou after a neat pass from El Hadji Diouf but the referee waved play on.

Spurr had two long range efforts which flew over the crossbar just before the half hour mark as Rovers looked to reduce their arrears.

Indeed Saunders men had plenty of possession but their attacks kept breaking down in the final third due to poor decision making and the team were booed off.

A combination of Ikeme and the woodwork prevented Henry, a thorn in Rovers side throughout, from extending the lead just after the re-start.

Ikeme continued to make amends for his earlier mistake by producing an outstanding save to beat out Henderson’s stinging half volley from close range.

But Rovers joy was short-lived when the Lions wrapped up the points before the hour mark when Henderson slid in Henry’s centre to claim his 19th goal of the season in all competitions.

The hosts kept searching for the breakthrough, with Frederic Piquionne heading Diouf’s corner wide when well-placed while substitute Fabien Robert came agonisingly close to making the breakthrough in the dying minutes but he failed to get on the end of Barnes’ cross.

ROVERS: Ikeme 6; O’Connor 5, Hird 5, Beye 5, Spurr 5; Coppinger 5 (Dumbuya 77) Barnes 5, Gillett 5, Diouf 6 (Robert 77); Hayter 5 (Oster 57), Piquionne. Substitutes: Woods, Bagayoko.

MILLWALL: Taylor 7; Smith 6, Robinson 7, Ward 7, Craig 7; Henry 8 (Feeney 66), Abdou 7, Wright 7 (Montgomery 88), Kane 7; Keogh 8, Henderson 8. Substitutes: Forde, Dunne, Bouazza.

Goals: Millwall; Keogh 8, Kane 13, Henderson 58

Bookings: Rovers Diouf dissent 60: Millwall: Robinson, late foul on Piquionne 60

Referee: Stuart Attwell (Warickshire)

Attendance: 7,572