REPORT: Wanderers v Doncaster Rovers

Wanderers lifted themselves off their collective sick bed to record a morale-boosting win which lifted them back into the top half of the table.

With a crippling injury list which had deprived boss Ian Evatt of seven senior players and run of just one victory in seven league games, Wanderers were in need of a lift.

And they delivered it in impressive style with a biggest home success of the season to make it back-to-back league victories at the University of Bolton Stadium.

A third goal in as many games for fit-again striker Eoin Doyle paved the way before Doncaster were reduced to 10 men following the dismissal of defender Joe Olowu.

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Elias Kachunga swiftly added to the punishment with his first league goal for the Whites to all but settle the outcome by half-time.

And George Thomason then layed claim to the third with a deflected effort in a dominant performance marred only by a further injury to Lloyd Isgrove and an impending ban for the livewire Dapo Afolayan.

Such is the extent of Wanderers’ injury woes that Evatt named only six players on the bench, including goalkeeper Matt Gilks and teenagers Mich Henry and Arran Pettifer.

With the squad stretched to the limits, Liam Gordon was asked to do a job at right-back - and did it very well - in another enforced re-shuffle as the Whites tried to make the most of their reduced resources.

Doyle’s return up front as the other change to Saturday’s starting line-up was therefore more than welcome, although the best chance of a tepid first half-hour came Doncaster’s way.

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Struggling Rovers hadn’t won away from home in League One but had tasted victory on the road in their last two cup ties – both at Scunthorpe United.

And they should have led as Wanderers were caught out on the break with ex-White Joe Dodoo squaring the ball for Jon Taylor to miss a near open goal with an effort he lifted over the bar.

That was a major let-off for the hosts whose injury jinx struck again when midfielder Isgrove limped out of the action.

But just when it appeared that nothing would go right, Wanderers pounced to go ahead.

Gordon did well to work an opening and find Kachunga, whose driven cross towards the far post reached Doyle who side-footed home his seventh goal of the season and first in the league since September.

It wasn’t all good news as Afolayan then picked up what looked like a harsh fifth booking of the season to incur a suspension.

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And he showed how badly he will be missed with a brilliant piece of wing-play to set up Wanderers’ second goal in first-half stoppage time, shortly after Rovers had been reduced to 10 men when Olowu was sent off for curtailing another Afolayan run.

With the visitors a man down, Afolayan jinked his way into the box and picked out Kachunga with a perfectly delivered low cross which Kachunga coolly steered home to open his league account.

There was no room for complacency as Joel Dixon had to sprint off his line to thwart Branden Horton as the Doncaster left-back burst forward in the opening moments of the second half.

But Wanderers were increasingly in control and twice went close to adding to their lead as Thomason delivered a superb cross which Kachunga headed wide before Ricardo Almeida Santos joined the attack to steer a shot just wide from 20 yards.

The home crowd didn’t have to wait long to celebrate again, though, as it became 3-0 with less than an hour gone with further evidence that Wanderers’ luck  may be changing as Horton sliced a Thomason effort passed his own goalkeeper.

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It was then just a matter of whether Wanderers could secure their biggest margin of the season and Gordon went close to a fourth as he connected sweetly with a Declan John cross with an effort blocked in front of goal.

Afolayan suffered a similar fate as he looked almost certain to ram home a fourth and Kachunga threatened again with an excellent run and shot which was deflected wide for a corner as he looked to add further gloss to an outstanding night's work.

John played most of the second half as a virtual left winger and he was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet himself with a couple of efforts saved by Louis Jones.

And with substitutes Xav Amaechi and Nathan Delfouneso also going close, Wanderers could easily have made a welcome win even more emphatic as they delivered just what the doctor ordered before the medics get to work again.

Wanderers: Dixon; Gordon, Almeida Santos, Aimson, John; Lee (Delfouneso 71), Thomson; Isgrove (Johnston 31), Kachunga, Afolayan; Doyle (Amaechi 59). Substitutes: Gilks, Henry, Pettifer.

Booked: Afolayan

Doncaster Rovers: Jones; Knoyle; Anderson, Olowu, Horton; Galbraith; Taylor, Smith, Rowe, Barlow; Dodoo. Substitutes: Dahlberg, Cukur, Hasani, Blythe, Ravenhill, Kuleya, Faulkner.

Booked: None

Sent off: Olowu

Referee: Stephen Martin

Attendance: 12,501

Read Time: 4 mins