As Doncaster Rovers prepare to face Sky Bet Championship Champions Leicester City on Saturday in a bid to secure safety, the Doncaster Rovers official website will take a look back this week at five games where Rovers have performed against all expectations.
1st May 2003
Football Conference Play-Off Semi-Final 1st Leg
Belle Vue, Doncaster
Doncaster Rovers 1 (Whitman 90+4)
Chester City 1 (McIntyre 37)
The clock ticks over in to the 94th minute of a tense and nervy affair on a balmy night in south Yorkshire. Rovers midfielder Ricky Ravenhill eventually returns to his feet after writhing in agony for the previous minute or so, while play passes him by. Chester have little sympathy, Rovers have little time.
This is new territory for all concerned. The play-offs have only just been introduced to the fifth tier of English football and no one knows what to expect; least of all Dave Penney’s Doncaster, who finished the season third, level on points with second placed Morecambe, but a long way short of Champions elect Yeovil Town – who sweep everything before them, including Rovers 4-0, just three weeks prior.
Having lost 1-0 at the Deva Stadium in front of the Sky cameras on a Monday night in March, history looked to be repeating itself when the villain of the piece, former Rover Kevin McIntyre, lashed in a twenty yard drive past a despairing Andy Warrington in the first half.
Penney could only look on as the game seemed to drift away from his side, despite his best intentions which had seen the more attack minded Paul Green and Gregg Blundell replace John Doolan and Andy Watson.
Rovers’ patience was to be rewarded though, through an unlikely hero.
After working the ball down the right flank, Golden Boot winner Paul Barnes cushioned the ball in to the path of the onrushing Tristram Whitman who thundered a swerving effort home from the edge of the area to restore parity.
Cue delirium at our former home from three sides of a packed Belle Vue.
Rovers weren’t down, as first thought, and neither were they out.
The second leg proved to be equally tense, but Rovers prospered 4-3 on penalties at the Deva Stadium following another one-all draw.
That shoot-out win set up a famous date with Dagenham & Redbridge at the Britannia Stadium, Stoke, where Rovers’ did things the hard way once again but finally squeezed past the Londoners with that golden goal through Francis Tierney.
Tell us your favourite example of Rovers’ battling qualities using the hashtag #Roversspirit on our Twitter page @drfc_official
Part two, will follow tomorrow.