Report: Doncaster Rovers 3 Bury 3
Doncaster Rovers tossed away two points from a game they should have won at a canter against relegated Bury.
First half goals from Andy Butler and John Marquis had Rovers in complete control.
But Niall Mason’s own goal before half time gifted the Shakers a way back into the game - which they fully accepted.
Jay O’Shea’s penalty and George Miller’s tap-in turned the game on its head following the re-start and Rovers needed a goal from Andy Boyle to rescue a point from a game that was there for the taking.
Rovers had gone into only their second home game in the space of two months with three wins from their last four games and eyeing a late surge up the League One table.
But, after almost being lulled into a false sense of security by the visitors, they could only reflect on a missed opportunity which rather summed up why Rovers are likely to finish this season firmly in mid-table.
Darren Ferguson freshened up his starting eleven by elevating Butler, Andy Boyle, Ben Whiteman and Alfie Bestin to the starting line-up.
And as far as starts to a game go, this was pretty much perfect.
Bury appeared to visibly nursing a relegation hangover and Rovers immediately got on the front foot, sensing blood.
It took them little more than 90 seconds to make that count as James Coppinger crossed from the right for Butler, who had intelligently stayed forward following a corner, to nod past Joe Murphy with real authority.
The home side bossed the early exchanges. Marquis came within a whisker of doubling the lead on five minutes when his instinctive effort clipped the post.
That early intensity dropped but the application was epitomized by Marquis just after the half hour when the workaholic striker tracked back deep into his own half before chasing the ball enthusiastically back to Murphy.
He might have claimed an assist of sorts because moments later Whiteman played in Rowe but his attempted chip was tame and easy for Murphy.
It mattered not because Rovers doubled their advantage from their next attack. They sliced the visitors open with a delightful move and Marquis applied the finishing touch, dinking a shot past Murphy which Matty Blair generously escorted into the net.
That really ought to have been that, even at such an early stage. Rovers had complete control.
But the visitors were handed the unlikeliest of lifelines after 38 minutes when Callum Styles’ inswinging free-kick from the right was headed into his own net by Mason.
Ferguson was understandably riled as their previously down and out opponents suddenly had a route back into the game. Neil Danns almost took full advantage on the stroke of half time but fired into the side-netting.
It served only as a warning sign as Bury dragged themselves level six minutes after the re-start from the penalty spot. Blair carelessly tripped the overlapping Phil Edwards and O’Shea coolly converted from 12 yards.
With something to hold onto, Bury were now a different proposition and they worked hard to close down space and stop Rovers playing. But, remarkably, they did even more than that.
On the hour mark substitute Zeli Ismail broke clear and his shot across the face of goal was tapped home by Miller to mark an incredible turnaround - although there was more than a hint of offside about the goal.
Rovers and their supporters were shell-shocked but to their credit the hosts levelled matters just five minutes later when Boyle rose highest to head home Coppinger’s left-wing corner.
Whiteman shot just over and Tommy Rowe might have made more of an excellent opening late on but Rovers had to settle for a point.
Rovers: Marosi, Blair (Kiwomya 59), Boyle, Butler, Mason, Houghton, Whiteman, Rowe, Coppinger (Kongolo 79), Beestin, Marquis. Subs not used: Lawlor, Alcock, Anderson, May, McCullough.
Bury: Murphy, Shotton, Thompson, Edwards, Cooney, Bunn, Danns (Ince 81), Styles, O’Shea (Tutte 90), Mayor (Ismail 55), Miller. Subs not used: Ripley, Clarke, Dai, Adams.
Referee: Carl Boyeson (East Yorkshire)
Attendance: 7,131 (105)