Doncaster's first ever visit to Bower Fold proved to be a miserable one as the resurgent Celts made it 3 wins out of 3 under new manager David Miller, and thus completing a double over the Yorkshiremen, courtesy of Sammy Ayorinde's 7th goal of season.
Both sides started brightly, Doncaster forced a couple of corners in the opening minutes but none of them posed any real problem for Fish and co. In the 5th minute Stalybridge forced their first corner, Woodhead's cross met the head of Shandran 10 yards out but his header sailed harmlessly over the bar. Rovers almost presented a goal to Celtic a minute later when Squires carelessly tried to head the ball back to his keeper, unaware that Ayorinde was lurking between the two of them. Only the alertness of Warrington prevented a catastrophe for the visitors.
Warrington could do nothing about the goal in the 9th minute though. The move started deep in Celtic's own half, Woods clearing as far as Murphy, who managed to turn his marker and play a long ball down the line for Ayorinde. His sheer strength saw him shake off the challenge of Kelly on the touchline and he cut into the box before unleashing a powerful drive past the keeper into the corner of the net from a narrow angle.
Doncaster enjoyed plenty of possession in the first half but it was Stalybridge who carried more threat. Shandran fired a 25 yard free kick high over the bar and then missed a great opportunity to put Celtic 2-0 up in the 17th minute. He broke clear after another wasted Doncaster corner and with Courtney up alongside and only one defender a goal looked odds-on. With the defender unsure which attacker to take Shandran powered his way into the box before drilling his shot just wide of the keeper's right hand post.
Ravenhill shot weakly at Fish for the visitors and Courtney should have done better when he got behind the defence on the right but he failed to pick out any of the 3 Celtic players who had raced into the box. On the half hour Doncaster produced their best moment so far, the ever-dangerous Watson weaved his way into the box and his low ball across goal was met by Gill by the penalty spot but his shot was deflected well wide by the excellent Williamson.
Two minutes later Kevin Parr, who had one of his best games of the season, should have doubled Celtic's lead when the ball arrived at his feet after a great move involving Shandran and Courtney, but from the edge of the 6 yard box and only the keeper to beat he delayed his shot just long enough for a Doncaster defender to get a challenge in and his shot embarrassingly wide. As the half drew to a close a deep Doncaster free-kick was headed back towards goal by Miller and met at the near post by Barnes, but his volley missed the target by miles.
Doncaster brought on substitute Campbell at the start of the second half and he was immediately amongst the action, hooking the ball high over the goal in the first minute. The visitors then had to endure a spell of Celtic pressure and only the brilliance of Warrington in goal kept them in the game. First Shandran hammered the ball goalwards from inside the box only to see Warrington block with his body. A minute later Ayorinde found himself in an identical position from Beesley's cross and once again the keeper somehow kept the ball out. His next save was the best of the lot, Shandran linked with Murphy, who stopped the ball perfectly for the Burnley man to unleash a low drive from just outside the box across goal but just as the home fans behind the goal were about to celebrate Warrington thrust out his right hand and managed to turn the ball round the post.
Gill and Campbell shot tamely at Fish and Shandran again tried his luck from the angle of the box but this time the ball whistled just wide. On the hour Steve Pickford sent a free kick to the back post for Parr to head back across goal for Matt Woods, but his volley from the 6 yard box was the type you'd associate with a defender and sailed high over the bar.
Celtic continued to press for the goal which would kill off the visitors. With 12 minutes to go Ayorinde again outbattled his marker on the touchline, got to the corner and whipped over a cross to the unmarked Courtney 6 yards out, but he reacted late and he headed well wide. A minute later Shandran almost got the goal his fine home debut deserved when he met Pickford's low corner at the near post and glanced his header just wide.
It wasn't until the last 5 minutes that Doncaster actually looked dangerous and their considerable travelling support will have mulled over two controversial pieces of refereeing on their way back over the moors. Firstly Doncaster had the ball in the net in the 86th minute but as they celebrated the referee had already brought play to a halt for an off the ball wrestling incident involving Williamson and Campbell. Both were booked. Two minutes later Williamson was again responsible for keeping Rovers scoreless as he headed the ball off the line after Fish's punched clearance was headed back in by Watson, and volleyed by Barnes.
Doncaster finished with a flurry, as Woodhead granted Campbell a corner, which sailed out of play on the other side, but as Rovers brought it back in, Murphy brought Campbell crashing down, though it took the substitute 20 yards to fall over - into the box!
The referee awarded the free kick where it had occurred and not where it had ended. After that play acting - he shouldn't have given anything. Parr headed clear the free kick for a corner, and Murphy sent the ball way down field off the corner, before the ref had seen enough and blew his whistle. A gritty performance by Celtic, with the deserved result. Doncaster should be looking towards Campbell for the loss - if he had not had a go at Williamson, after the Celtic man had tackled him, their goal would have counted.