Sullivan heroics earn second crack at Villa

Doncaster Rovers 0 Aston Villa 0

Neil Sullivan kept Rovers in a dramatic, if goalless, Cup-tie at the Keepmoat, but it was another Scot who nearly won it for the Championship side.

Sullivan, 27 times capped by Scotland during a long career spent almost entirely in the top division, made a string of fine saves – a couple of them requiring reflexes not guaranteed in a goalkeeper approaching his 39th birthday.

It was the Scotland under-21 international, Martin Woods, who almost capitalised on that good work by clinching the game. He had an impressive match on the left side of midfield, rattling the bar with a shot in the first half and the post with a free-kick late in the second.

"I'm a bit gutted we didn't get the result in the end," he said. "But we gave a good account of ourselves against a Premier League team and hopefully we can take that confidence into the replay. I put a bit too much curl on the free-kick and it just hit the outside of the post. It was disappointing because I thought it had a chance when I hit it."

Doncaster have an impressive Cup record against Villa, including a five-game epic in 1955 and a 3-0 Carling Cup victory three years ago. They made the chances to have won this as well, but so, despite not firing on all cylinders, did their opponents.

With John Carew still injured, Ashley Young suspended and Emile Heskey not signed in time, Gabriel Agbonlahor was on his own up front and found the going difficult. He still produced a couple of efforts on goal that demanded the best from Sullivan, however, as did James Milner and, minutes from the end, the substitute, Craig Gardner. Agbonlahor, possibly from an offside position, also ran clear and hit the bar, with Sullivan for once powerless to intervene.

There was a worse miss from Steve Sidwell, who had his "Darren Bent moment" when he headed wide of an open goal from Milner's cross.

Martin O'Neill, one of the Premier League's stronger advocates of the FA Cup, was philosophical afterwards about the need for an extra match. "It's the FA Cup and I'll take it," he said. If anything, the replay was more of an unwelcome addition to the fixture list for Rovers' Sean O'Driscoll. Charged with seeming less than jubilant about the result and the performance, he made it clear where his priorities lay.

"How am I supposed to be?" he asked rhetorically. "We're two places off the bottom of the Championship table." Even he would concede, though, that his side had not played that way.

Doncaster Rovers (4-4-2): Sullivan; O'Connor, Mills, Hird, Roberts; Spicer (Lockwood 89), Stock, Wellens, Woods; Coppinger (Price 75), Guy (Heffernan 75). Substitutes not used: Taylor, Van Nieuwstadt, Wilson, Byfield.

Aston Villa (4-5-1) : Friedel; Cuellar, Davies, Knight, Shorey; Reo-Coker (Gardner 69), Barry, Sidwell, Petrov, Milner; Agbonlahor. Substitutes not used: Guzan (gk), Harewood, Delfouneso, Salifou, Osbourne, Clark.

Referee: M. Halsey

Bookings: None

Man of the Match: Sullivan

Attendance: 13,517

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future