DONCASTER ROVERS are down.
A stoppage time equaliser for Birmingham City at Bolton wanderers meant Paul Dickov’s men, who slipped to a 24th defeat of the season thanks to David Nugent’s second half penalty, crashed through ghe relegation trapdoor.
It was a heart-breaking end with Bolton having, at one stage, led 2-0 and now the south Yorkshire club must face up to a League One return.
Rovers’ approach from the start had been to try and stifle Leicester’s attacking armoury by retaining their shape.
It worked well in the first half, even though Rovers goalkeeper Sam Johnstone was the busier of the two goalkeepers.
First, he kept out David Nugent with a block after the Foxes striker had intelligently sprung the visitors’ offside trap.
Then, after referee Paul Tierney had turned down strong appeals for a penalty against Lucas Neill after the Australian had handled a Ritchie De Laet cross, Johnstone again did brilliantly to keep out a low drive from Kevin Phillips.
Rovers best moment of the first half came when James Coppinger skilfully beat two opponents before spreading the play to Chris Brown, whose return pass just evaded the midfielder as he broke into the area.
Gabriel Tamas had the first opening of the second half with a drilled shot that Kasper Schmeichel saved comfortably before news came through that Bolton were ahead.
That prompted celebratory scenes in the away end, while the Leicester fans also joined in - chanting ‘There’s only one Dickov’, a gesture their former striker clearly appreciated.
After that, the game became largely immaterial for a time with even Leicester going ahead through a David Nugent penalty after a lazy foul by James Husband unable to dampen spirits among the travelling fans.
News that Bolton were 2-0 ahead were the reason for the jollity in the away seats.
But then the Birmingham fightback began and when Paul Caddis nodded home in stoppage time, that spelt the end for Rovers.
Doncaster boss Paul Dickov promised that every effort will be made to win instant promotion back to the Championship.
Dickov said: “Obviously we are gutted and disappointed because it was everyone’s aim this year to keep us in this division.
“It is not all about today though. We can look at the result today and results elsewhere, but it’s over the course of the season.
“And more often than not you probably deserve to be where you are at the end of the season.
“We came up a little bit short but it wasn’t through lack of effort from the players, the club or the fans.
“We gave it everything we had. I thought we were resolute today in what we wanted to do. We knew we had a job to do and tactically for the majority of the game the players did it well.
“But once we gave the penalty away and you hear scores coming from elsewhere you want to try and get attacking players on the pitch. It was difficult when Birmingham equalised as late as they did.
“The one thing I do now is pick myself up, pick the club up and we go again next season.
“If I had managed to keep the club up today it would have been the biggest achievement of my career.
“Will I be manager next season? Absolutely. We have had conversations before today and the club want me to stay. All our efforts now are to make sure we get promoted next season.”