Crystal Palace make light work of limp Doncaster
Jeffrey Schlupp and Max Meyer both scored in the first half to book quarter-final spot
Crystal Palace’s Max Meyer celebrates scoring his side’s second goal of the game during the FA Cup fifth round win over Doncaster Rovers at the Keepmoat Stadium. Photo: Richard Sellers/PA Wire
Doncaster Rovers 0 Crystal Palace 2
Crystal Palace are in the FA Cup quarter-finals for the second time in 24 years while Doncaster Rovers have to wait another season at least to debut at the stage, falling at the fifth round for a fifth time after an ultra-professional display from their Premier League visitors.
Doncaster’s manager, Grant McCann, changed Aaron Lewis and Mallik Wilks for Matty Blair and Alfie May from Tuesday’s 3-0 win over Southend United, while Roy Hodgson’s adjustments ran to six: Patrick van Aanholt, Luka Milivojevic, Martin Kelly, Andros Townsend and Jeffrey Schlupp being those retained from the 1-1 draw with West Ham United.
Doncaster enjoyed a pre-kick-off huddle, then a fluid move that had James Coppinger cutting in from the left before a reverse ball found the left-back, Danny Andrew.
Palace were not being allowed to settle and Doncaster forced the contest’s opening corner. Ali Crawford’s delivery from the left came to nothing and the visitors were about to show a killer edge.
When Schlupp took the ball following a smart Milivojevic interception inside his half nothing seemed on. Yet the Ghanaian ran along the left – a Rovers player should have challenged – and hit the opener from inside the area via Paul Downing’s foot past Marko Marosi.
McCann stood forlorn near his seat wondering how his usually well-drilled outfit had allowed this to happen. What he saw next was his side respond well. Coppinger, making a 610th Rovers appearance, passed to Herbie Kane and when the centre-forward John Marquis swooped along the left Palace were grateful the danger died.
Next up a 25-yard Kane shot led to Rovers’ second corner. Like the first, though, Palace cleared it. A third soon followed and when Danny Andrew executed a one-two and whipped in a cross this led to No 4.
Palace seemed to have targeted Rovers’ right side because they produced a near-carbon of their strike on the break from the dead ball, Jordan Ayew leaving Paul Downing a spectator before turning across goal.
The tie was breathless. Wayne Hennessey dismayed Hodgson when clumsy feet allowed yet another kick from the right quadrant for the League One side. The lead had not settled Hodgson’s men and when Milivojevic steered the second of successive Palace corners straight out that sense deepened.
Their advantage was a superior edge before goal. Michy Batshuayi might have made it 2-0 with a fine header if not for a block, the kind of real threat Rovers rarely placed upon Palace. A Coppinger snap-shot – snuffed out by Milivojevic – was a rarity and when Kane hit straight to Hennessey it summed up Doncaster’s opening half.
By the break they were fortunate to escape a penalty when Downing handballed a Patrick van Aanholt cross but were still two goals down. This second conceded came at the end of a slickly worked Palace move in added time: Milivojevic chipped to Andros Townsend whose header into the six-yard box was headed home by Max Meyer.
After the break May twice came close to pulling one back; the first of these chances the closest, a close-range header that went too high.
Coppinger then showed why he remains a Rovers fulcrum at 38, ending a mazy run with a 20-yard attempt that went for a corner. This had the Rovers support believing again as first May, then Kane went close.
On the hour Hodgson took off Ayew for Cheikou Kouyaté, the latter impressing instantly with neat footwork to help get Palace out of trouble.
This was followed by McCann introducing Tommy Rowe and Kieran Sadlier for Crawford and Coppinger. The latter had been among Rovers’s brightest performers and the game flat-lined for a period after the forward’s exit.
After Hodgson changed Batshuayi for Christian Benteke and Townsend for James MacArthur, Palace continued to control proceedings. – Guardian service