DONCASTER’s jewel in the crown El-Hadji Diouf has no doubts Rovers are going to retain their Championship status.
The on-song Senegal striker tormented title-chasing West Ham and his former manager Sam Allardyce as the relegation-strugglers snatched a battling point on their travels to East London.
And Rovers could have easily come away from the Boleyn Ground with a maximum points haul if Diouf had not seen his late strike brilliantly saved by Hammers’ keeper Robert Green.
“We are going to survive,” said Diouf. “If we continue to play like we did today we will stay up.
“We play some of the best football teams in the Championship - we just need to keep going.
“It was a good game I think we played the best football and we should have won the game.
“We played wonderful against a team who want to go up to the Premier League next season.
“We knew at the beginning of the game that it was going to be hard but the gaffer said to us if we stay in the game they don’t have a chance to win the match.
“He said their fans don’t help too much because if you see the results they get at home they are not normal.”
Diouf was constantly booed by the home supporters, but only inspired for the former Liverpool, Bolton, Sunderland and Blackburn marksman to turn on the magic.
“I’m a footballer and I love the pressure,” added Diouf. “I can play here every Saturday or every Sunday because I know the fans are going to boo me and the more they boo me the more determined I am to play well.
“I think like [Eric] Cantona, when he went to Man United in the beginning the fans didn’t like him, but after he turned everything on his side because he was a wonderful player and could win a football game.
“It’s a big mistake for West Ham not signing me because if you see from the game I love Sam Allardyce and he would love to have me in his team.
“He knows I’m going to try my best and play my football and they are going to try and stop me, but when I decide to play I don’t think anyone can stop me.”
Rovers boss Dean Saunders made one change to his side which beat Nottingham Forest in midweek, with striker Mamadou Bagayoko in for Hammers loan striker Frederic Piquionne who was ineligiable for the contest.
But it took the hosts just 13 seconds to get the ball into the back of the net when Ricardo Vaz Te, the former Barnsley winger, rifled beyond keeper Carl Ikeme.
However, the effort was ruled out by referee Andy D’Urso after Portuguese Vaz Te was adjudged to have fouled right-back Pascal Chimbonda on the way to scoring.
In the fifth minute striker Carlton Cole crashed a powerful shot against the crossbar, before four minutes later the hosts were in front.
Vaz Te’s chipped cross picked out Jack Collison and his powerful header was superbly saved, one-handed, by Ikeme.
But the ball ran loose in the six-yard box and Nolan poked home for his ninth goal of the season and his second in three games.
However, as both managers admitted afterwards, the game changed considerably when Vaz Te limped off with a hamstring injury after just 23 minutes.
The Hammers were far less fluent breaking forward and after the break it was Rovers who raised their game.
Diouf whipped in a dangerous free-kick in the 50th minute and midfielder Giles Barnes headed wide of the far post.
Three minutes after that chance Barnes had a shot charged down and then forced Green into making a good low save at his near post.
And then the equaliser came in the 73rd minute when Diouf picked out James Coppinger and the winger bundled the ball over the line to level matters.
Green denied Kyle Bennett with a fine save, but the midfielder had been flagged for offside.
Chimbonda then found Diouf with a clever cut-back across goal and the striker thought his left-foot shot was in, but the outstretched Green somehow turned the ball past his post.
Defender James Tomkins headed wide from an inswinging Mark Noble corner in the last minute of the match, before midfielder Collison should have won it for the Hammers in injury-time, but he lashed wide from a glorious position.
“I shut my eyes when the ball dropped to him [Collison],” admitted Saunders. “Luckily he screwed it wide.
“But we should have won our last nine games, however we’ve missed too many chances.
“We changed the shape of the team after 15 minutes and we looked better straight away.
“We should have won it, but we can’t complain because they’ve missed that open goal at the end of the game.”