DONCASTER ROVERS put in a great performance at second in the table West Ham to grab a 1-1 draw. Rovers were boosted by a welcome 2-1 away win over Forest on Tuesday night, which followed draws against Brighton and Peterborough.
But the high-flying Hammers had the ball in the back of the net after only 13 seconds.
Former Barnsley winger Vaz Te burst free and rifled beyond Rovers’ keeper Ikeme to the delight of the home supporters.
But referee D’Urso ruled out the goal with Portuguese Vaz Te penalised for a foul on Rovers’ right-back Chimbonda.
In the fifth minute Rovers could have been behind again, but this time the crossbar saved them.
Winger Collison cut the ball back to Cole and the striker thundered a left-foot shot against the woodwork.
However, the home side didn’t have to wait long for a deserved opener when skipper NOLAN put them in the ninth minute.
Vaz Te chipped the ball in from just inside the left edge of the Rovers’ penalty area and Ikeme produced a wonderful one-handed save to block Collison’s goalbound header.
But the ball ran free to the back post and there was Nolan to poke home on the line for his ninth goal of the season.
The hosts’ happiness turned to disappointment in the 23rd minute when provider Vaz Te limped off with what looked like a bad injury, with Hammers’ boss Alardyce forced to bring on Baldock as an earlier than planned substitute.
Saunders’ side came close to bagging an equaliser through midfielder Barnes.
Diouf whipped in a lovely free-kick from the right wing, but Barnes saw his header fly wide of the back post.
Three minutes later Diouf picked out Barnes again, this time from a right-wing corner, and the midfielder saw his shot charged down.
The ball came back out to Barnes just a few seconds later and this time Hammers’ keeper Green denied him with a smart low save at his near post. It was Rovers’ first shot on target.
Allardyce made his second change of the afternoon in the 57th minute when midfielder Lansbury was replaced by O’Neil.
Rovers also made a change with the creative Oster brought on in the 61st minute to replace striker Bagayoko.
Bennett moved up front to partner his captain Diouf, while Oster slotted in to central midfield.
A dangerous cross from Coppinger was fumbled by Green in the 67th minute, but defender Tomkins raced to the rescue to clear the ball and alert any worries.
Rovers kept battling as they looked to extend their impressive unbeaten run to four games against one of the league’s best sides.
Coppinger fed Diouf in the 69th minute, but his weak header flew harmlessly wide of the left upright.
Rovers were rewarded for a much-improved second-half showing when COPPINGER netted a 73rd minute equaliser.
Diouf caused problems with his cross into the box and, when the ball ran loose, a thankful Coppinger pounced to bundle home.
Rovers could have gone in front three minutes later when Green denied Bennett from close-range, but the effort wouldn’t have counted with referee D’Urso having blown for offside.
Saunders made his second change of the afternoon when Hird replaced Martis in the centre of defence, perhaps the manager having sensed an onslaught in the final quarter of an hour.
Allardyce made his third change with skipper Nolan withdrawn and new loan signing Collins brought on to freshen up in the centre of the park.
With four minutes remaining Rovers were denied the lead after Green made a brilliant one-handed save to deny Diouf. Chimbonda picked out the striker with a inch-perfect cut-back into the box and Diouf’s left-foot shot looked destined for the bottom left-hand corner.
But Green, diving full stretch to his right, somehow managed to turn the shot past his right post.