Blackpool 1 Doncaster Rovers 1: A promising answer to a decent test of mettle as McCann's men fight back
With four games without a win, a run of disappointing performances and play-off related pressure only mounting, a trip to Blackpool was hardly what the doctor ordered for Doncaster Rovers.
Grant McCann's side travelled across the M62 knowing full well they were set to visit a club reborn and revitalised.
The dynamic of the fixture switched dramatically a fortnight prior with the end of the Oyston era at fellow play-off chasers Blackpool, bringing delighted fans flooding back in their thousands.
And when Rovers pulled up at Bloomfield Road, they were met with gale force winds off the Irish Sea, bitterly cold temperatures and a playing surface that could rival the Golden Mile for the amount of sand upon it.
A test of character. A test of resolve. A test of mettle.
While it did not deliver the win their top six quest desperately needs, their response to the test was a timely assurance they have the bottle for the task at hand.
They needed it too, coming from behind after Michael Nottingham put Blackpool ahead early in the second half before Tommy Rowe blasted Rovers level.
It was not a pretty contest. The conditions would not allow for that.
Though both sides valiantly tried to play, often they were undone simply by the environment around them with it proving very difficult to get the ball under control.
Rovers began with a strong determination to press, piling forward with energy and aggression and forcing mistakes before breaking out of midfield.
It saw them start the game the brighter with Tommy Rowe seeing a shot deflect wide after working his way into the box.
Mallik Wilks - playing in the middle of a front three in the absnece of suspended John Marquis - lashed over from 25 yards while Alfie May struck wide after meeting Danny Andrew's testing cross.
Ali Crawford could not quite get under control a flick on from Rowe and drilled over the bar from 15 yards.
Blackpool grew into the game, pushing down the flanks well.
Liam Feeney headed a cross narrowly wide before Armand Gnanduillet missed a sitter, firing over from a superb position.
Marko Marosi did well to hold a shot from Jordan Thompson but Rovers ended the half with the best chance to that point only for Crawford to lack composure has he shot over from Rowe's through ball.
The strength of Rovers' character was posed a greater test less than five minutes into the second half.
A Blackpool free kick from the left was headed against the crossbar with the ball falling to substitute Michael Nottingham who sidefooted high into the net first time.
Rovers responded well in terms of enjoying spells of possession in the opposition half but were lacking a touch of quality to threaten in the final third.
But it was a moment of true quality that drew them level on 73 minutes.
Substitute James Coppinger held the ball up in the box and laid off to Rowe who allowed the pass to run across his body before lashing into the top corner.
It restored parity where it was deserved and both sides struggled to create in the remaining minutes.
Blackpool substitute Antony Evans crafted a glorious chance for himself after weaving into the box but drilled wide.
League One’s top two await in the next two games – further, even more stern tests of character.
But this was a decent start.
BLACKPOOL: Howard; Daniels (Nottingham 20), Heneghan, Tilt (Pritchard 46), Anderton; Feeney, Virtue (Evans 83), Spearing, Thompson; Gnanduillet, Long. Subs not used: Boney, Delfouneso, Dodoo, Kirby.
ROVERS: Marosi; Blair, Downing, Butler, Andrew; Crawford, Whiteman (Kane 68), Rowe; May (Smith 63), Wilks, Sadlier (Coppinger 68). Subs not used: Jones, Anderson, Lewis, Beestin.
REFEREE: Peter Wright (Merseyside)
ATTENDANCE: 7,404 (323 away)