Rovers rock rivals Blades
Sheff Utd suffered a first defeat of 2009 as Doncaster claimed a shock 1-0 win at Bramall Lane.
Last Updated: 27/01/09 10:09pm
Sheffield United suffered a first defeat of 2009 as Doncaster Rovers claimed a shock 1-0 win at Bramall Lane.
James O'Connor grabbed the only goal of the South Yorkshire derby to boost Rovers' hopes of avoiding relegation.
Danny Webber twice tested Doncaster keeper Neil Sullivan, with the Blades having won their previous five games in all competitions.
Billy Sharp had the first decent chance for the home side, sending his shot just wide in the 12th minute.
Gary Naysmith created United's next effort, breaking well before finding Greg Halford six yards from goal.
Halford connected with the cross but remarkably failed to force a save as his header flew harmlessly over the crossbar in the 20th minute.
Former Sunderland and Reading defender Halford tried his luck again two minutes later but he was no more successful from 20 yards than he had been from six.
Webber tested Sullivan's hands after 25 minutes and the Scottish keeper reacted nervily, fumbling his save.
But somehow Rovers held on, with Martin Woods offering a solitary effort on the home goal with a hopeful strike on the half-hour mark.
With five minutes to go before the whistle, Sullivan again saved sloppily from a 20-yard hit from Webber but the keeper did better when reacting smartly to punch a curling Stephen Quinn corner away from the danger area as the half came to a close.
Doncaster seemed to be spurred on by their good fortune in surviving the first period unscathed and were one goal up within five minutes of the restart.
First Jason Price and then O'Connor pressed forward for Sean O'Driscoll's revitalised side before John Spicer found space on the left side of the penalty area.
Spicer's cross found O'Connor at the far post and he converted left-footed from close range.
Kyle Naughton returned fire for United soon after but his shot from the edge of the box did not force Sullivan into action.
Kevin Blackwell sent on Jamie Ward just before an hour's play, removing the ineffective Sharp, but the game soon descended into a series of scrappy fouls.
Quinn had several chances to create an equaliser from the corner flag but an organised Doncaster defence were holding up well.
On the one occasion centre-half Chris Morgan did evade his marker to get on the end of Quinn's inswinging delivery, he headed wide from 12 yards.
Doncaster had created little after the opener and Richie Wellens was hopeful to think his effort, from at least 35 yards, would test Paddy Kenny.
Blackwell's side, though, were getting closer.
First Nick Montgomery teed up Darius Henderson, who wasted a good chance when heading over with 20 minutes left, then Ward earned a corner when his strongly-hit shot from inside the area was palmed over by Sullivan.
But United could not find the final ball and there were few further chances of note as Doncaster held on to the points.