Date: 15th February 2009 at 11:54am
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IT was certainly a case of ‘after the Lord Mayor’s show’ as Wednesday slipped to a 1-0 defeat in their first ever match at Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium on Saturday.

The Owls went in to the clash full of confidence following their completion of the Steel City derby double at Bramall Lane last weekend, and there was always a feeling that the Owls could come unstuck against one of the best teams in the Championship at the moment.

Rovers have a reputation for playing football the right way, despite their league position, and the hosts certainly didn’t let us down in that respect yesterday with some top-drawer football that had Wednesday on the back foot for much of the match.

Paul Heffernan’s 31st minute strike proved enough for Rovers on the day, but although the hosts more than had their fair share of the game, Wednesday still had chances to get something from the South Yorkshire derby.

Both teams stuck with the same starting eleven from their last respective outings, Wednesday’s star man of last week Marcus Tudgay starting in attack for the Owls alongside Leon Clarke.

And Wednesday looked to have hit the ground running to take the momentum from last weekend’s victory into the match with a fast-paced attacking start.

Wednesday looked confident on the ball in the opening ten minutes and took the game to a Rovers side who took a fair while to get out of first gear in front of a full house at the Keepmoat.

Some good play involving Michael Gray and Clarke led to James O’Connor having a golden opportunity to give Brian Laws’ men the lead, but the former Burley midfielder could only fire his effort high over Neil Sullivan’s goal.

Chances were coming thick and fast at both ends, and when Rovers finally woke up, they had an equally good chance to break the deadlock, this time Heffernan being just yards out when blasting his shot over the bar.

The effort was the kick-start that Doncaster needed and they proceeded to play some of the best football I, as a Wednesday fan, have seen against the Owls for some time, probably since the last time Wednesday came up against Rovers.

But the difference was that Rovers looked more likely to hit the back of the net with their efforts this time.

The hosts just didn’t let Wednesday to have time on the ball, hustling them at every opportunity and often forcing them into errors.

For the hosts, they looked more than comfortable stringing pass after pass together and looking threatening with the final ball, the last-gasp Owls defence often coming to the rescue.

Heffernan was the man looking most likely and after a an effort which drew a comfortable save from Owls’ stopper Lee Grant, he made his next chance pay.

James Coppinger broke free down the right hand side and put in a teasing cross for the former Notts County man to head into the back of the net, giving Grant no chance of making any of his remarkable saves Owls fans have already seen this season.

The goal could have acted as a wake-up call for Wednesday but it only spurred Rovers on to play more attacking football, with Grant being kept on his toes throughout.

If anything, the hosts will have thought they’d deserved more goals to take into the half-time interval.

And there were none more disappointed that goalscorer Heffernan, who had another superb chance to double Rovers’ lead, only to see his effort fly wide of goal with Grant on-rushing.

Half-Time: Rovers 1-0 Wednesday

Wednesday had to show considerable improvement to get anything from the match in the second half but it was Rovers who continued their momentum after the restart.

Mark Beevers, again not enjoying one of his better games in the blue and white stripes, had to be at full stretch to deny Heffernan another chance in front of goal.

But Wednesday soon upped their gear, with the noisy travelling Wednesdayites helping no end, and proved more than a match for their hosts in the second half.

The Owls’ first real chance for some time was carved out by the impressive Gray, putting Clarke through on goal, but the former Wolves man could only fashion a tame effort at former Leeds stopper Sullivan.

But the Owls’ confidence had certainly improved, and they were forcing more pressure in the Rovers’ final third.

That culminated in the best chance of the match for the visitors with 20 minutes remaining, as Jermaine Johnson, often thwarted from causing much damage throughout, got free to put in a superb cross on to the head of Clarke, who saw his dipping header come agonisingly back of the crossbar.

The Owls were enjoying their best spell of the game, and although Rovers continued to carve out chances at the other end, the visitors were coming closer and closer.

Clarke had another chance on the turn, but the Rovers’ defence scrambled around the striker to block his powerful effort.

Woods came close for Rovers at the other end as the game opened up in the final 20 minutes, and the hosts made a number of substitutions to break the flow of the game.

But Wednesday looked to have run out of ideas in the final 10 minutes, and Rovers comfortably hung on for what was a deserved three points on the day to make amends from their early season reverse at Hillsborough and lift them seven points clear of the relegation spots.

For Wednesday, they’ll be hoping to hit back in yet another South Yorkshire derby on Tuesday night when Barnsley are the visitors to Hillsborough.

Full-Time: Rovers 1-0 Wednesday

Doncaster: Sullivan, O’Connor, Mills, Hird, Chambers, Spicer, Stock, Wellens (Lockwood 90), Woods, Coppinger (Wilson 87), Heffernan (Price 86). Subs Not Used: Byfield, Guy.

Wednesday: Grant, Buxton, Wood, Beevers, Spurr, Johnson, O’Connor, Potter, Gray, Clarke, Tudgay. Subs Not Used: O’Donnell, Hinds, McAllister, Boden, Small.