A John Marquis double helped Doncaster Rovers extend their lead at the top of League Two, as they beat Portsmouth 3-1 on Thursday night.
Marquis opened the scoring in the fourth minute, before Kal Naismith levelled for Portsmouth before half time, but second-half goals from Tommy Rowe and Marquis ensured victory for the Yorkshire side.
Doncaster started the game in the best possible way, and took an early lead in the fifth minute with the first chance of the game.
James Coppinger’s right-wing cross was met by the shoulder of centre-back Christian Burgess, and fell kindly to striker John Marquis, who headed past the helpless David Forde from six yards out for his 11th goal of the season.
Conor Grant had the opportunity to double the hosts’ lead just three minutes later, but his impressive shot was held by Forde.
Portsmouth’s first chance came in the 14th minute via Enda Stevens, who ran into the Doncaster area and saw his low cross being deflected into the side-netting.
The visitors nearly equalised from the resultant corner, when Matt Clarke’s header took a deflection off a Rovers head, but goalkeeper Marko Marosi produced a wonderful save to prevent the ball from crossing the line.
It was then Doncaster’s turn to hit the side netting, with Niall Mason firing wide after the Portsmouth defence failed to clear the ball away.
Marquis went close again shortly after, when he rose to meet Craig Alcock’s cross, but his header brushed the angle of the crossbar and post.
The game continued to be an end-to-end affair, and Pompey had another chance when Stevens’ cross was flicked on by Kal Naismith and fell to Gareth Evans, but his volley was blocked by Grant.
Portsmouth were threatening to score, and they did just that in the final few minutes of the first half. Kyle Bennett surged into the Doncaster half and played in Kal Naismith, who took a touch before slotting the ball past Marosi from just inside the area.
The scores remained level until 12 minutes into the second half, when Tommy Rowe restored Doncaster’s lead with a stunning effort. Coppinger marched towards the Portsmouth area before laying the ball off to Rowe, who beat one man before powerfully striking the ball into the roof of the net.
Portsmouth manager Paul Cook made changes to his side in an attempt to change the game, sending on the experienced Gary Roberts in place of Kyle Bennett.
However it was Doncaster who struck the next blow. Rowe’s cross from the left flank was deflected into the path of Marquis, who coolly side-footed the ball into the top corner from 12 yards to score his second of the game and his 12th of the season.
Portsmouth continued to press, and nearly halved the deficit when Milan Lalkovic’s shot look destined for the back of the net, only to be denied by another good save from Marosi.
That proved to be Marosi’s last contribution, who was stretchered off a few minutes later following a collision. The impressive Slovakian was replaced by substitute keeper Ross Etheridge for the final few minutes.
The visitors attempted to pile the pressure on Etheridge and his defence, but failed to trouble the stand-in keeper – despite seven minutes being added on as a result of Marosi’s injury – and Doncaster held onto all three points.
Doncaster: Marosi (Etheridge 86), Alcock, Baudry, Butler, Mason, Rowe, Grant, Houghton, Blair (Williams 55), Coppinger (Middleton 67), Marquis. Unused subs: Wright, Keegan, May, Beestin.
Goals: Marquis 4, Rowe 58, Marquis 71
Bookings: Alcock 52
Portsmouth: Forde, Evans, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens, Rose, Doyle, Baker (Lalkovic 62), Naismith (Chaplin 75), Bennett (Roberts 67), Smith. Unused subs: O’Brien, Whatmough, Linganzi, Hunt.
Goals: Naismith 41
Bookings: Burgess 34, Evans 40, Doyle 45
Man of the Match: John Marquis