The Blades keeper later denied Coppinger while John Oster shot wide with another long-range effort before the home team deservedly took the lead.
Coppinger capitalised on Nyron Nosworthy's poor clearance, heading the ball to Sharp and collecting a beautifully weighted return pass before slotting his low strike beyond Simonsen.
It was a superbly executed finish but the second goal, which came minutes before the break, was even better as Doncaster worked the ball precisely through the Blades midfield.
Blades not sharp enough - Speed
A flowing seven-pass move culminated in a precise cross from the left by the impressive loanee Joseph Mills.
James Hayter's initial shot was saved by Simonsen but former Blades striker Sharp, a lifelong fan of the Sheffield club, scored with the rebound.
Sharp had been sold by the Blades in the summer and celebrated his goal by displaying a message on his T-shirt that said 'Fat lad from Sheffield'. But his evening soured in injury-time when he pulled a hamstring and was replaced by Dean Shiels.
Rovers showed further glimpses of the high-quality football after the break, with skipper Brian Stock shooting over from 20 yards after a scintillating counter attack.
But there was a noticeable improvement from the Blades, who brought on Jamie Ward and Matt Lowton in quick succession after the restart and played with a faster tempo and greater conviction.
Cresswell was moved from the right side to centre forward and created an opening for Ward with a deft flick but his team-mate could not keep his shot on target.
Cresswell should have pulled a goal back but, in a moment that summed up a frustrating night for his side, he scuffed a header tamely wide with an excellent chance after a teasing delivery from the largely anonymous Mark Yeates.
And close to full-time United had a strong penalty appeal turned down after Ward went down in the box but referee Keith Hill waved play on.
Live text and stats
Saturday, 23 October 2010
04 Martis (Lockwood 76)
07 Woods (Hird 79)
24 Dumbuya yellow card
10 Sharp (Shiels 45+3)
06 Ertl (Lowton 58)
27 De Laet
28 Quinn yellow card
10 Bogdanovic (Ward 51)
17 Cresswell (Slew 83)
Ref: HillAtt: 8,985
Attempts on target
Attempts off target
90:00+3:08 The referee brings the game to a close.
90:00+0:43 Shot from 12 yards by Mark Yeates. Save by Neil Sullivan.
88:13 The official flags Brian Stock offside. Steve Simonsen restarts play with the free kick.
86:38 The official flags Mark Yeates offside. Neil Sullivan restarts play with the free kick.
84:02 The ball is swung over by Jean Calve, save by Neil Sullivan.
83:51 The ball is delivered by Mark Yeates, clearance by Adam Lockwood.
82:50 Substitution Jordan Slew joins the action as a substitute, replacing Richard Cresswell.
78:50 Substitution Martin Woods goes off and Sam Hird comes on.
77:42 Close range effort by James Hayter misses to the left of the goal.
76:59 Martin Woods takes a inswinging corner from the right by-line played to the near post, clearance by Matthew Lowton.
75:45 Mark Yeates sends in a cross, Unfair challenge on Brian Stock by Richard Cresswell results in a free kick. Neil Sullivan takes
the direct free kick.
75:45 Substitution Adam Lockwood joins the action as a substitute, replacing Shelton Martis.
73:24 Foul by Shelton Martis on Stephen Quinn, free kick awarded. The ball is delivered by Mark Yeates, Richard Cresswell has a
headed effort at goal from close range which goes wide of the left-hand post.
70:22 The ball is delivered by Mark Yeates, Joseph Mills manages to make a clearance.
69:01 Mark Yeates takes a shot from 12 yards. Comfortable save by Neil Sullivan.
66:55 Ritchie De Laet fouled by Dean Shiels, the ref awards a free kick. Mark Yeates restarts play with the free kick.
63:48 The ball is delivered by James Hayter, Effort on goal by Brian Stock from just inside the penalty area goes over the target.
61:07 James Hayter fouled by Nyron Nosworthy, the ref awards a free kick. Shelton Martis takes the free kick.
57:04 Substitution (Sheff Utd) makes a substitution, with Matthew Lowton coming on for Johnny Ertl.
56:26 The ball is swung over by Stephen Quinn, save made by Neil Sullivan.
55:27 Foul by Stephen Quinn on Dean Shiels, free kick awarded. Brian Stock takes the free kick.
53:08 Stephen Quinn is caught offside. Neil Sullivan restarts play with the free kick.
50:23 Foul by Dean Shiels on Stephen Quinn, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Jean Calve.
50:23 Substitution Jamie Ward comes on in place of Daniel Bogdanovic.
46:59 The assistant referee flags for offside against James Hayter. Steve Simonsen takes the free kick.
45:23 The referee blows for offside against Daniel Bogdanovic. Neil Sullivan takes the direct free kick.
45:01 The match restarts for the second half.
45:00+4:03 The first half comes to an end.
45:00+3:27 Free kick awarded for a foul by John Oster on Leon Britton. Direct free kick taken by Steve Simonsen.
45:00+2:33 Substitution Billy Sharp goes off and Dean Shiels comes on.
45:00+2:00 Booking Mustapha Dumbuya goes into the referee's book.
45:00+1:58 The referee blows for offside against Richard Cresswell. Indirect free kick taken by Neil Sullivan.
45:00+0:50 The official flags Mark Yeates offside. Free kick taken by Shelton Martis.
44:06 Free kick awarded for a foul by Richard Cresswell on James O'Connor. Neil Sullivan takes the free kick.
43:09 Free kick awarded for a foul by Nyron Nosworthy on Billy Sharp. Direct free kick taken by Martin Woods, Shot from deep inside
the area by John Oster clears the crossbar.
41:22 GOAL - Billy Sharp:Doncaster 2 - 0 Sheff Utd A goal is scored by Billy Sharp from deep inside the penalty area to the bottom right corner of the goal. Doncaster 2-0 Sheff
40:10 Leon Britton delivers the ball, Header from deep inside the area by Johnny Ertl goes over the bar.
38:10 Corner taken right-footed by Stephen Quinn.
37:32 Stephen Quinn takes the outswinging corner, Mark Yeates has an effort at goal. Brian Stock manages to make a clearance.
37:14 Mark Yeates takes a shot. Blocked by Shelton Martis.
34:41 The assistant referee flags for offside against Stephen Quinn. Neil Sullivan takes the indirect free kick.
32:43 Assist by Billy Sharp.
32:43 GOAL - James Coppinger:Doncaster 1 - 0 Sheff Utd James Coppinger scores a goal from deep inside the penalty box to the bottom left corner of the goal. Doncaster 1-0 Sheff
32:05 Mark Yeates challenges Mustapha Dumbuya unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Martin Woods.
31:46 Foul by Jean Calve on Billy Sharp, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Mustapha Dumbuya.
30:13 The ball is delivered by Mustapha Dumbuya, Header from deep inside the penalty area by Billy Sharp goes harmlessly over the
29:49 A cross is delivered by James Coppinger.
29:08 Ritchie De Laet delivers the ball.
27:43 Martin Woods fouled by Jean Calve, the ref awards a free kick. Shelton Martis takes the free kick.
26:32 Free kick awarded for a foul by Martin Woods on Richard Cresswell. Steve Simonsen takes the free kick.
21:19 Free kick awarded for a foul by James Hayter on Johnny Ertl. Steve Simonsen takes the direct free kick.
20:51 John Oster fouled by Richard Cresswell, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by James O'Connor.
19:59 Corner taken left-footed by Martin Woods.
19:47 Booking Stephen Quinn shown a yellow card.
18:17 The official flags Ritchie De Laet offside. Free kick taken by Neil Sullivan.
16:27 The assistant referee flags for offside against Daniel Bogdanovic. James O'Connor takes the free kick.
15:54 Shot by Mark Yeates. Neil Sullivan makes a save.
14:19 Martin Woods concedes a free kick for a foul on Ritchie De Laet. Mark Yeates takes the free kick.
12:54 Chris Morgan gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on James Hayter. Brian Stock takes the direct free kick.
12:08 Effort from the edge of the box by John Oster goes wide of the left-hand upright.
8:25 James Coppinger crosses the ball.
7:00 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Mustapha Dumbuya by Daniel Bogdanovic. Free kick taken by Neil Sullivan.
5:17 James Coppinger takes a shot. Save by Steve Simonsen.
2:35 Daniel Bogdanovic is caught offside. Free kick taken by Brian Stock.
1:46 Free kick awarded for a foul by James Hayter on Jean Calve. Direct free kick taken by Steve Simonsen.
0:40 Shot by Martin Woods from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the goal.
0:00 The match gets underway.
Live text and data provided by The Press Association.
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