Doncaster Rovers 4 (Ironside 17 pen, 52, Westbrooke 63, Faal 67) Sutton United 1 (Smith 90+9)
Hopes that Sutton's convincing victory over Walsall last week might herald a change of fortune were dashed at the Eco Power Stadium as Doncaster recorded an ultimately comfortable win that put more distance between them and the League Two basement. It was a similar game to the defeat at Crawley a fortnight ago as U's conceded inside the first twenty minutes but were still well in the game at half time, only for it to run away in the second half as Doncaster scored three times in fifteen minutes.
There was more bad news on the injury front before the game with Hisham Kasimu found to have broken a bone in his leg during Tuesday's EFL Trophy game against Crawley, but the starting line-up that had overwhelmed Walsall remained intact and the early signs were promising, with Josh Coley twice doing well on the right and the second time seeing his shot saved at the near post by Louis Jones, who also had a scare when he was outjumped by Harry Smith but saved by his defence before Aiden O'Brien could force the ball in.
However it was the home side who scored first, against the run of play, when a cross from the right was cleared to the edge of the penalty area where Craig Clay's attempt to send the ball downfield only saw him bring down Mo Faal, conceding a penalty which Joe Ironside despatched easily.
Despite a Luke Molyneux shot that curled just wide of the post and a cross from the same player that flashed across the face of the goal, Sutton were relatively comfortable until the break and could have been level as Smith controlled a superb pass from Joe Kizzi before sending in a shot that was well saved by Jones. O'Brien also sent a volley on the turn just wide (above), and when U's came out at the start of the second half on the front foot there was every prospect of some reward. However those hopes were dashed as Tom Nixon had a shot saved by Dean Bouzanis, and a minute later Owen Bailey's cross from the right was glanced in by Ironside.
Sutton never recovered, and within fifteen minutes the back line had been breached twice more with worrying ease. First a cross from Molyneux after a quick throw in was laid back by Ironside for Zain Westbrooke, whose first shot hit the post but rebounded to give him a second chance he gleefully accepted, and then Faal, a threat all afternoon, ran on to Molyneux's through ball and guided the ball between Bouzanis and the post.
At that stage it seemed a case of damage limitation for Sutton, but despite a couple of scrambles U's goal remained intact for the rest of the game, and there was even the consolation of having the last word and denying Doncaster a clean sheet as, with the last meaningful touch of the game, Smith headed in at the far post after Coley had headed on Kizzi's cross.
Sutton: D Bouzanis, J Kizzi, S Hart, O Sowunmi, B Goodliffe, C Clay, J Coley, C N'Guessan(sub H Beautyman 66), H Smith, A O'Brien, O Patrick(sub D Mellor 78). Subs n/u S Arnold, R Milsom, R Jackson, L Angol. Booked: N'Guessan, Kizzi, Smith
Doncaster: L Jones, O Bailey, T Nixon, T Anderson, J Olowu, Z Westbrooke (sub G Broadbent 80), L Molyneux, B Close(sub T Kuleya 85), J Ironside, T Rowe(sub H Biggins 60), M Faal(sub J Goodman 81). Subs n/u I Lawlor, D Sotona, W Flint. Booked: Rowe, Nixon
Referee: Declan Bourne
Attendance: 6,473 (133 away)