Rovers rock Lilywhites
James O'Connor and James Hayter helped 10-man Doncaster inflict an opening day defeat on new-look Preston.
Last Updated: 07/08/10 5:54pm
James O'Connor and James Hayter helped 10-man Doncaster inflict an opening day defeat on new-look Preston at Deepdale.
The visitors forged into an early lead which they never relinquished, with the only black mark on the day coming with the late dismissal of debutant midfielder Simon Gillett.
A previously optimistic Deepdale was left distinctly deflated as Darren Ferguson's side never recovered from their double blow inside the opening 18 minutes.
Preston manager Ferguson made wholesale changes during the summer, showing the door to several players and bringing in a number of new faces.
Defenders David Gray and Craig Morgan, midfielder Darel Russell and striker Paul Hayes were handed places in the starting line-up.
Yet Doncaster's intricate passing quickly proved difficult for Preston to cope with and they were left chasing shadows by Sean O'Driscoll's men.
O'Connor opened the scoring in the 12th minute when he finished off a fine move down the left flank with a fierce right-foot strike across home goalkeeper Andy Lonergan and into the bottom left-hand corner.
O'Driscoll handed debuts to summer signings George Friend and Gillett and the duo both helped the visitors to dominate the opening exchanges and it came as no surprise when they added their second goal in the 18th minute.
Defender Friend crossed dangerously and club record signing Billy Sharp greeted his delivery with a firm header. Lonergan made a parried save but Hayter nodded in the rebound from 12 yards out to put Rovers 2-0 up and in total control.
Preston struggled to exert themselves on the game and Hayes had a shot blocked by Shelton Martis seven minutes before the break.
Moments later, North End winger Keith Treacy drilled in a shot from 25 yards which drew a comfortable save from Rovers goalkeeper Neil Sullivan.
Five bookings in the first half - three for Preston - summed up the frustrations of the home side and Chris Brown also earned a fourth yellow card for the home team shortly after the restart.
Treacy fired wide in the 49th minute and Sharp threatened for Doncaster. Rovers midfielder Brian Stock also went close as the visitors threatened a third goal.
Ferguson replaced Russell with Paul Coutts in the 54th minute and on-loan Manchester United youngster Josh King came off the bench to replace the wasteful Hayes with 20 minutes remaining.
But Doncaster's defence continued to hold firm as Sullivan made a smart stop to deny Treacy in the 76th minute.
Rovers lost Gillett to a second bookable offence with 12 minutes remaining but they held on with relative comfort to leave Ferguson with plenty to ponder.