doncaster ROVERS grabbed a draw with a late penalty at home to Brighton, but time is running out in their relegation battle.
Rovers kicked off a gruelling schedule of nine matches this month looking to avenge a 2-1 defeat at the Amex Stadium on the opening day of the season.
But they could hardly have picked a tougher game in which to try and bounce back to winning ways than against seventh-placed Brighton, who have been unbeaten in league football in 2012.
A decent following had made the long journey from the South Coast and they were in full voice early on.
There had been little to excite either set of fans however, in the opening eight minutes.
Rovers skipper Brian Stock tried to carry on after taking a knock but was forced to limp off in the ninth minute with what looked to be a back injury.
Gillett came on for Stock with Diouf donning the captain’s armband.
Brighton took the lead on 20 minutes when Jara Reyes squared the ball across to Bridcutt who scuffed his shot from the edge of the box. The ball found its way to MACKAIL-SMITH, who many thought was offside, and he scored from close range.
Mackail-Smith was booked for a 24th minute foul on Chimbonda and Rovers went close to an equaliser from the resulting free-kick.
The tempo of the game had picked up since the goal, with Rovers making the most of the running.
Coppinger shot just wide of the far post with an angled 25-yarder on 28 minutes.
Brighton left-back Mattock had to time his tackle to perfection, which he did, to deny Diouf a shooting chance without conceding a 32nd minute penalty.
Bagayoko was only able to get the slightest of touches to Chimbonda’s right-wing cross into the box shortly after.
The Rovers fans behind Ikeme’s goal gave vent their feelings when the referee awarded Brighton a corner after they claimed Mackail-Smith not Beye had made the ball dead. Brighton keeper Brezovan almost fell back over his own line when he appeared to lose his balance after stretching to collect Diouf’s free-kick.
Diouf’s claim for a 40th minute penalty, after he gone to ground in a challenge with Jara Reyes, fell on deaf ears.
Spurr, who had got through a lot of work this half, pushed on down the left before crossing into the box, but there was no team-mate to take advantage .
Hayter shot over from about 10 yards after Gillett’s blocked shot had fallen nicely for him in the box.
Rovers kicked off the second hal more than a little unfortunate to be behind after having had most of the play in the first half.
They continued to take the game to Brighton in the opening minutes of the second half and Coppinger shot just wide on 49 minutes after Bagayoko headed the ball into his path.
Bagayoko and El-Abd were both spoken to by the referee following an incident in the box but neither were booked.
The Brighton keeper could only punch clear from Coppinger’s cross after he had done well to retrieve a wayward shot by Barnes in the corner.
It had been all Rovers in the first ten minutes of the second half with Brighton making only the odd excursion into Doncaster territory.
Brighton made a change on the hour with Noone replacing Razak.
There was a let off for Rovers on 64 minutes when Mackail-Smith, who was unmarked in front of goal, failed to get his head to Noone’s left-wing cross.
El-Abd headed over from a corner a minute later.
Rovers brought on Robert for Coppinger, who had put in a good shift, on 67 minutes.
Mattock, who was given too much time and space, shot just wide of the right-hand post from the egde of the area two minutes later.
Brezovan beat Hayter to Gillett’s right-wing cross at the far post when Rovers next returned to the attack.
Noone, who had looked lively since coming on, had his shot blocked by Beye after cutting in from the left flank.
Rovers made a third substitution on 74 minutes with Bennett replacing Hayter.
Brighton had come more into the game at this stage and Ikeme was forced to dive at Buckley’s feet to deny him a shooting chance from Ashley Barnes’ throughball.
Rovers drew level on 80 minutes with a clinical spot-kick from Diouf after Giles Barnes had been fouled in the box by El-Abd.
Brighton made a double change on 82 minutes with Assulin and Vokes replacing Buckley and Mackail-Smith respectively.
Brighton striker Vokes just failed to get a toe to Noone’s late cross into the box in front of goal in the 88th minute.
Robert shot over from just inside the area at the other end on 90 minutes.