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Crystal Palace 1 Doncaster 1: Rovers go bottom of the table despite vital away point

Crystal Palace 1 Doncaster 1: Rovers go bottom of the table despite vital away point

PUBLISHED:

21:42 GMT, 27 March 2012

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UPDATED:

21:45 GMT, 27 March 2012

Doncaster slipped to the foot of the npower Championship despite a second-half equaliser from substitute Chris Brown.

Rovers were staring at a fourth straight defeat after Jermaine Easter's first goal since Christmas put Crystal Palace ahead.

But Brown, who has missed most of the season through injury, swept in a leveller for the strugglers just four minutes after coming on.

Level pegging: Chris Brown hit the equaliser for Doncaster

Level pegging: Chris Brown hit the equaliser for Doncaster

MATCH FACTS

Crystal Palace: Speroni, Clyne, McCarthy, McShane (Gardner 6), Moxey, Zaha, Williams (Ambrose 80), Dikgacoi, O'Keefe, Easter, Martin, Gardner (Murray 24). Subs not used: Price, Pedroza.

Booked: Martin.

Scorer: Easter 57.

Doncaster: Ikeme, Chimbonda (Friend 36), Beye, Lockwood, Ilunga, Robert (Barnes 72), Gillett, Keegan (Brown 73), Oster, Diouf, Piquionne. Subs not used: Bennett, Coppinger.

Booked: Oster, Brown, Ilunga, Friend.

Scorer: Brown 76.

Referee: Darren Deadman.

Attendance: 13,401.

However, a point was far from ideal for either side as Portsmouth climbed above Rovers at the bottom while Palace's already slim play-off hopes suffered another dent.

Yet Dean Saunders' side did not start like the team floundering at the wrong end of the table and should have buried at least one of three early chances.

In the third minute Frederic Piquionne crossed from the left but Fabien Robert's shot was too close to Eagles keeper Julian Speroni.

Unfortunately for Rovers, Piquionne then began to show why West Ham were happy to let him leave on loan in January.

After a quarter of an hour the French striker had a free header from Simon Gillett's cross, six yards out in front of goal, but put his effort woefully wide.

Moments later Robert fed Piquionne in the Palace area but this time he could only prod the ball onto the foot of Speroni's right-hand post.

Palace's cause was not helped by losing two centre-halves to injury in the opening 25 minutes, with Paul McShane and then his replacement, Anthony Gardner, both limping out of the action.

Rovers full-back Pascal Chimbonda was also forced off in the first half, while Palace's enforced reshuffle actually perked them up and they almost took the lead before the interval.

Bleak outlook: Doncaster are now bottom of the Championship

Bleak outlook: Doncaster are now bottom of the Championship

Wilfried Zaha, just back from a three-match ban, tore down the left and his low cross found substitute Glenn Murray, whose first-time shot forced a fine point-blank save from Rovers keeper Carl Ikeme.

And Palace took the 12 minutes after the break, with Zaha the architect.

The teenage winger tricked his way to the left byline and drilled the ball across to leave Easter with a tap-in at the near post.

It could have been two moments later but Murray headed Chris Martin's corner into the side-netting at the far post.

However, Rovers sent on Brown and the former Sunderland trainee made an immediate impact on only his second appearance since August.

In the 76th minute El-Hadji Diouf's cross was only half-cleared by Nathaniel Clyne, Piquionne headed the ball back into the mix and, while Paddy McCarthy dithered, Brown crashed the ball in from close range.

Southampton 2 Doncaster 0: Billy Sharp fires Saints to fourth straight win

Southampton 2 Doncaster 0: Sharp fires Saints to fourth straight win to put former club in the mire

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UPDATED:

17:28 GMT, 24 March 2012

Former Doncaster striker Billy Sharp sent Southampton one step closer to the Barclays Premier League and at the same time nudged his old employers further towards the npower Championship trapdoor.

Sharp joined the Saints in the January transfer window for a fee in the region of 2million and scored two second-half goals to earn victory as the Saints continue to march towards promotion.

It will have been a bittersweet afternoon for Sharp as, despite sending his new side nine points clear of third-placed West Ham, the defeat leaves Rovers, for who he scored 41 goals in 86 appearances, staring relegation in the face, five points adrift of safety.

On a march: Billy Sharp nods the opener

On a march: Billy Sharp nods the opener

MATCH FACTS

Southampton: Davis, Butterfield, Fonte, Hooiveld, Fox, De Ridder (Barnard 67), Schneiderlin, Cork, Lallana (Hammond 78), Sharp, Lambert (Chaplow 49). Subs not used: Harding, Martin.

Booked: Sharp.

Scorer: Sharp 58, 75.

Doncaster: Ikeme, Chimbonda, Beye, Lockwood, Ilunga, Coppinger (Bennett 65), Gillett, Barnes (Brown 79), Oster (Robert 90), Diouf, Piquionne. Subs not used: Bagayoko, Friend.

Booked: Lockwood, Gillett, Diouf.

Referee: MacDermid.

Attendance: 30,209.

It was a dominant performance from
the hosts and Sharp broke the deadlock shortly before the hour with a
header and then put the game to bed by firing home from inside the area
with 15 minutes to go.

Rovers were left to reflect on a
third successive defeat, which may have been different had Frederic
Piquionne headed home early on.

Seven wins out of nine had seen the
Saints become firm favourites for the title before kick-off and Sharp
was given the nod upfront against his old club.

For Rovers, back-to-back home defeats
to Derby and Millwall had damaged their chances of survival but they
will have been buoyed by a recent point at West Ham.

Rovers' start will have provided
further optimism for boss Dean Saunders, but after complaining of missed
chances in recent weeks, he was again left with his head in his hands
when Piquionne headed over from Simon Gillett's cross in the eighth
minute as Rovers threatened to cause a shock.

The feeling was that the miss could
prove costly as Southampton settled in from there and Adam Lallana could
have opened the scoring after a neat exchange with Sharp, but his
effort was blocked.

The traffic was becoming one way and
after Rickie Lambert had a shout for a penalty turned down, Sharp went
close to registering against his old side, though his header went wide
of the post.

Party time: Southampton celebrate Sharp's opener

Party time: Southampton celebrate Sharp's opener

The opener eventually came 13 minutes
after the restart when Sharp reacted quickest to get on the end of Dan
Fox's inviting corner to head home his second goal in a Southampton
shirt.

That tally was soon taken to three
with 15 minutes remaining when he capitalised on some poor defending
from Habib Beye before firing past Carl Ikeme.

Richard Chaplow shot wide as the
Saints looked to put the icing on the cake, but a fourth win on the
bounce means it appears as though it is just a matter of time until
promotion is secured.

West Ham 1 Doncaster 1: Complacent Hammers lose ground after Coppinger strike

West Ham 1 Doncaster 1: Complacent Hammers lose ground after Coppinger strike

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UPDATED:

17:12 GMT, 10 March 2012

West Ham lost ground at the top of the Championship as they were held to a 1-1 draw by a battling Doncaster outfit.

Kevin Nolan's ninth goal of the season capped a dominant start for the hosts but they took their foot off the gas and were punished when James Coppinger levelled in the 73rd minute.

The hosts looked to have got off to a flying start when Ricardo Vaz Te had the ball in the net inside the opening minute but the Portuguese was penalised for a foul on Pascal Chimbonda.

Celebration time: James Coppinger hit a priceless equaliser for Doncaster

Celebration time: James Coppinger hit a priceless equaliser for Doncaster

Match facts

West Ham: Green, McCartney, Faye, Tomkins, Taylor, Noble, Lansbury (O'Neil 57), Nolan (Collins 80), Collison, Cole, Vaz Te (Baldock 25). Subs not used: Maynard, Morrison.

Scorer: Nolan 9.

Doncaster: Ikeme, Chimbonda, Martis (Hird 75), Beye, Spurr, Bennett, Barnes, Gillett, Coppinger, Diouf, Bagayoko (Oster 60). Subs not used: Hayter, Robert, Ilunga.

Scorer: Coppinger 73.

Referee: Andy D'Urso.

It took just another two minutes
before the Hammers threatened again as Carlton Cole collected a pass
from Jack Collison and rifled a 20-yard effort against the crossbar.

The inevitable breakthrough came
after nine minutes as Nolan stabbed in from close range after Rovers
failed to clear their lines following Henri Lansbury's shot.

Dean Saunders' men briefly relieved
the pressure when El-Hadji Diouf broke away down the right but his
threatening cross was plucked out of the air by Rob Green just as
Mamadou Bagayoko was closing in.

Sam Allardyce was forced to make a
change midway through the opening half when Vaz Te went down clutching
his hamstring. He was replaced by Sam Baldock.

With the home side beginning to lose
some of their impetus, Doncaster sensed an opportunity to get a foothold
in the game and Coppinger's powerful strike, which Green had to palm
around the post, underlined their increasing threat.

They continued to grow into the game
after the interval, with Diouf providing their most promising outlet.
The Senegalese whipped in a free-kick which Giles Barnes nodded narrowly
wide.

Off the mark: Kevin Nolan prods home

Off the mark: Kevin Nolan prods home

The Hammers sought to reassert their
authority with a prolonged spell of pressure but Rovers pressed the ball
well, restricting the space the hosts had to work in.

When Doncaster won it back they
caused panic in the penalty area as Coppinger's cross was left by Green
before James Tomkins eventually took charge of the situation to clear to
safety.

But with 17 minutes to go the
visitors deservedly drew level as Simon Gillett kept the ball alive in
the box and Coppinger capitalised to steer it in from close range.

Upton Park held its breath when
Coppinger delivered for Diouf with five minutes to play but he could not
make clean contact with his shot and Green turned the ball away for a
corner.

The draw extends West Ham's unbeaten
run to seven matches but Southampton's victory over Barnsley means they
are three points behind in the race for the title.

Doncaster, meanwhile, are still fighting for survival after taking six points from their last four games.