Doncaster 0 Aston Villa 0: Sullivan rolls back the years to earn Rovers return

24 January 2009 06:51
Safe hands: Doncaster goalkeeper Neil Sulivan was in supreme form to deny Aston Villa defender Curtis Davies from challenging the scoreline   More. Doncaster v Aston Villa: How the game unfolded ASTON VILLA NEWS FROM ACROSS THE WEB Hartlepool 0 West Ham 2 Chelsea 3 Ipswich 1 Hull 2 Millwall 0 Kettering 2 Fulham 4 Portsmouth 0 Swansea 2 Sheff United 2 Charlton 1 Sunderland 0 Blackburn 0 Torquay 0 Coventry 1 Watford 4 C Palace 3 West Brom 2 Burnley 2 Wolverhampton 1 Middlesbrough 2 It was one of those typically uncomfortable FA Cup afternoons for a top-flight side as Villa struggled to find any rhythm or tempo. Rovers exuded the air of a confident side that had won four and drawn one of their previous five games coming into one of their biggest matches of the last 25 years. That was the last time in which Rovers had appeared in the final 32 of the oldest cup competition in the world, with its magic working to good effect at the tidy, compact Keepmoat Stadium. Despite fielding a full-strength side, with the exception of Ashley Young starting a three-match suspension following his straight red card dismissal in last Saturday's 2-1 win at Sunderland, O'Neill's team often mis-fired. Beat it: Gareth Barry out paces Doncaster's Sam Hird to the ball Perhaps if Agbonlahor had not skewed a fourth-minute shot with only Sullivan to beat from 15 yards after a mix-up in the home defence it might have been a different story. But from that moment Doncaster grew in stature as the game wore on, appreciating there was little to this Villa side to unduly trouble them. Sean O'Driscoll's men quickly carved out their opening opportunity in the seventh minute, and if Agbonlahor's miss was a glaring one, then Gareth Roberts was equally as culpable in the seventh minute. Left unmarked at the far post to a deep cross from the right wing from James O'Connor, left-back Roberts volleyed inches wide. Unsurprisingly, and rightly so, the fact Roberts was allowed such a chance resulted in a broadside from Villa goalkeeper Brad Friedel to his defenders for their slack marking. Missing man: Steve Sidwell squanders a golden opportunity to put Aston Villa ahead just yards away from goal It worked as they duly tightened up, although there were still a few anxious moments that followed, with Rovers twice going close again before the break, albeit from distance. In the 20th minute, James Coppinger let fly with a toe-poked 20-yard effort that narrowly cleared the crossbar, although Friedel was comfortable in allowing it to pass over. Then 10 minutes before the break, Friedel found himself beaten by a dipping strike from Woods the American was relieved to see clip the top of his crossbar and drop to safety. Such an opportunity had curtailed a 10-minute spell of dominance from Villa, who finally offered a degree of substance to their top-flight style. The highlight of which saw Sullivan prove he has lost none of his spring or agility with a fine fingertip stop to deny Agbonlahor from six yards. Second date: Villa boss Martin O'Neill must prepare his side to face Doncaster again after the Championship hosts forced a replay It was Sullivan who then commanded the second half, although not for another 15 minutes into it as Villa continued to struggle to find their feet. When they did, they should have buried a team 38 places below them in the league, but a combination of Sullivan and wastefulness left the game on a knife-edge. After twice denying James Milner in a matter of minutes either side of the hour-mark, the former Scotland international then pulled off his save of the game to tip away the towering Zat Knight's downward header. After the heroics from Sullivan came the villainy from Villa as Milner and Steve Sidwell both missed the target with free headers when they should have at least put Sullivan under more pressure. To cap a remarkable 12-minute spell in front of a crowd of 13,517, worse followed for Villa against a Rovers side visibly beginning to tire. Racing onto a ball from deep, Agbonlahor was sent scampering clear, but with only Sullivan to beat, the 22-year-old somehow contrived to smack his shot against the bar when he should have buried it. Rovers, though, were not yet done, only for Woods to strike the left-hand post with a curling 25-yard free-kick late on that had Friedel clawing at thin air. After one more sterling stop from Sullivan to deny Craig Gardner, he duly earned the man-of-the-match award and Rovers their night out at Villa Park.   More. Doncaster v Aston Villa: How the game unfolded ASTON VILLA NEWS FROM ACROSS THE WEB Hartlepool 0 West Ham 2 Chelsea 3 Ipswich 1 Hull 2 Millwall 0 Kettering 2 Fulham 4 Portsmouth 0 Swansea 2 Sheff United 2 Charlton 1 Sunderland 0 Blackburn 0 Torquay 0 Coventry 1 Watford 4 C Palace 3 West Brom 2 Burnley 2 Wolverhampton 1 Middlesbrough 2  

Source: Daily_Mail