Latics’ long unbeaten record came to an end in disappointing style at the Keepmoat Stadium as Doncaster Rovers’ stunning second half comeback overturned a half-time lead given to Gary Caldwell’s men when Will Grigg scored his 21st league goal of the season shortly before the break.
Andy Butler scored two goals in four minutes shortly into the second half to overturn the lead and despite Latics throwing the proverbial kitchen sink at the Rovers goal in the final half an hour, Doncaster scored a third from the penalty spot after a breakaway led to covering man David Perkins bringing down the Doncaster forward in the box, Andy Williams making no mistake from the resultant penalty.
Latics remain three points clear at the top of Sky Bet League One and are still in a superb position with four matches to go – but Caldwell will be looking for a major reaction after a disappointing performance from his men. “It was a bad day at the office,” he said, “we knew that Doncaster wouldn’t make it easy and there could be no complaints about the result. They happen in football, we need to react now.”
Rovers took the game to Latics from the very start of the game and they were not able to get their usually highly effective passing game going.
There had been warning signs during the opening half an hour but Rovers couldn’t convert possession into goals.
When Michael Jacobs – a surprise early substitution for Conor McAleny in the 40th minute – set up a great counter attack with virtually his first touch of the game. Yanic Wildschut rampaged through the Rovers back four and after cutting the ball back from the right, Grigg glanced it home at the far post with a rare headed goal.
Latics have been devastating in the second half of matches away from home in recent weeks, but this time the opposite was true.
Butler nodded home at the far post for his first goal from a corner, the ball bouncing back up off the surface and beyond the despairing reach of Jussi Jaaskelainen. Then before Latics were able to regain their composure, the centre half bundled home a second after from another corner.
Cue the best spell of the game for Latics, but for all the intensity in their build-up play, Doncaster held on resolutely, the best opportunity falling the way of Wildschut, his side footed effort after Jacobs’ good work flying agonisingly wide of the far post.
The game was in the balance and as Latics committed men forwards, so Doncaster were able to break and Gary McSheffrey, who had been a thorn in Latics side for large parts of the game, found himself one on one with Jaaskelainen. Perkins tried his best to stop his run but as both men came together in the box, McSheffrey went to ground and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot - and no option but to brandish a red card to Perkins as last man.
Andy Williams smashed his spot-kick straight down the middle of the goal to put the result beyond any doubt.