A latecomer making his way past me to his seat grumbled that he’d missed 2 goals, despite the game being barely five minutes old (roadworks on the Spur Road, no doubt)! I was glad I’d taken the train.
Apart from a brief scare at the other end when Elliott had to tidy up in our 6-yard box, Rovers could hardly get a kick. Our passing and movement were first class and, as so often happens in such circumstances, every bit of luck, refereeing decision, etc. seemed to be going our way. Wader nearly scored himself and Mayer put a header wide when he should have hit the target, but the next goal always looked like coming. After 19 minutes Brian Stock took a corner on the right which Eddie Howe struck low first-time, right-footed from just inside the box. The ball may have taken a deflection, but found the inside of the far post. It was almost too easy. 3-0.
Rovers tried to rally but just couldn’t get a foothold in the game, such was our superiority, although Moss did have to make one excellent reflex save to deny Ipoua. And then we completed a brilliant 25 minutes by hitting them on the break after one of their rare attacks. John Spicer sprinted upfield with the ball before laying it off to Warren Cummings on the left whose cross found Garreth O’Connor in the box. The Irishman twisted and turned before unleashing a left-foot shot which went in off the far post. Not quite as spectacular as his effort a Blackburn, but a good strike nevertheless. 4-0.
As half-time approached I enjoyed the luxury of wondering how many we would score when kicking towards the home end, rather then wondering how we would hold on! However, Doncaster nearly reduced the arrears just before the interval when Ipoua’s header pinged off the bar. A few of their fans were already making for the exit, but, to their credit, the vast majority stayed and kept singing to the end, despite the cause being clearly lost.
Under the stand at half-time I ran into Stuart Mitchell who, despite having a much shorter journey since his recent move to the area, had managed to miss the first 3 goals due to the traffic! And I’m sure he wasn’t the only one.
I suppose it was inevitable that we’d take our foot off the gas a bit the second period. And no doubt Dave Penny had had a few words to say to his team during the break. Anyway, after Rodrigues had forced Warrington to spectacularly tip a curling shot over the bar, the visitors began to have a bit more possession. However, our defence looked determined not to let them have a consolation goal (despite a comical collision between Eddie and Mossie!) and we always looked like adding to our total when we went forward.
However, the North End had to wait until the 70th minute for a goal when Elliott ran at the Rovers’ defence before flicking the ball out to Spicer on the right wing. The Arsenal lad picked out Hayter with a deft chip and our top scorer doubled his tally with a low shot from 10 yards. 5-0.
With Connell and Holmes replacing the hard-working Rodrigues and Hayter and Marcus Browning making a welcome return, we looked like scoring more goals. Indeed, if Cummings’s crossing had been better, we might well have done so. But it’s hard to find fault with any aspect of today’s performance. What a week it’s been!
Hayter’s brace and all-round performance win it for me, but Elliott’s contribution is very close behind
AFCB: Moss, Broadhurst, Maher, Howe, Cummings, Elliott, O'Connor, Stock, Spicer, Hayter, Rodrigues
Subs: Stewart, Holmes (for Rodrigues, 76), Connell (for Hayter, 76), Andrade, Browning (for Maher, 72)
Ellis Griffin, Chertsey