Doncaster 2 Swindon 2: Obika denies Rovers and Jones’s wait goes on

AFTER virtually ending Doncaster Rovers’ 2014-15 play-off pitch in March, Jon Obika doubled up to deliver a hefty blow to Rob Jones’s full-time managerial quest last night.
Keshi Anderson scores Rovers' equaliser.Keshi Anderson scores Rovers' equaliser.
Keshi Anderson scores Rovers' equaliser.

Obika, a Rovers target in the summer of 2014, netted a stoppage-time winner for the Robins in a 2-1 Spring victory – and came off the bench again to devastating effect.

The forward headed home Yaser Kasim’s corner in the first minute of stoppage-time cruelly to scupper Jones’s hopes of a maiden win in his interim spell in charge, which has now lasted four games.

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A haul of two points from a possible 12 does not exactly stack up numbers wise in his bid for the permanent post, or serve as a massive nudge to the board either.

But that said, Jones is a resolute fighter and his side produced a bold second-half performance that will have provided him with pride after a weekend derby loss at Sheffield United, of which he was severely critical.

But after witnessing his team display those combative qualities in abundance in his own image with a late rally that was as welcome as it was unexpected last night, there was a serious sting in the tail.

After Saturday’s setback at Bramall Lane, Jones – who late last week announced his desire to land the full-time job – was left to bemoan, in his words, mistake after mistake.

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And crucially another arrived at the worst possible time with Rovers switching off to allow Obika to steal the show again.

With 17 minutes left, the odds on Jones landing the role he covets will have seemed considerably long, with Rovers trailing to a 47th-minute strike from ex-Leeds United man Nicky Ajose.

But a grim night turned around in remarkable fashion, thanks to a fine strike from loanee Keshi Anderson – given a standing ovation following a wholly encouraging home debut – and a penalty from ex-Swindon striker Andy Williams. Yet in keeping with a vacillating night, the action was not quite over.

It was a night when Jones suffered on the pitch, with his evening curtailed after just 36 minutes as he went off with injury following his return to the side, quickly donning a bench coat to assume managerial operations in the technical area.

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But the pain he endured on the sidelines will have felt worse, with the anguish self-evident as Rovers toiled in front of goal before a stirring rally – and then deflation, which summed up the slings and arrows of football management.

Rovers, who headed into the game with the lowest goals for tally in the whole of the Football League, scored twice, but victory still crushingly eluded them thanks to Obika. While the first half was not exactly free-flowing, the hosts ended it well enough to provide encouragement to the sparse crowd.

Given their meagre goals return, it was somewhat naive to expect Rovers to create a plethora of chances, but a couple of presentable ones did arrive.

They both came at the feet of Williams, but while plenty of what he touched in front of goal managed to turn to gold for the Robins in 2014-15, it is somewhat different this time around.

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Williams spurned an excellent chance when he headed wide and slipped when well placed just before the break before eventually firing over.

Williams commendably persisted and saw a deflected strike fly just off target before the break.

Swindon looked neat and tidy at times, but did not post too much of a threat in the final third, with their best effort seeing Henrik Ojamaa drill a shot narrowly wide.

On the restart, Rovers suffered an instant blow with Ojamaa sending Ajose clear, with the home defence absent without leave, and he coolly lobbed over the stranded Thorsten Stuckmann. It had the makings of a long night, with Ajose going close to a second after being left clear again following Fabien Robert’s pass.

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But Rovers, to their credit, dug in with Anderson’s persistence rewarded when he fired home a fine angled shot on 73 minutes for his first goal in league football.

With their tails up and the crowd suddenly buying into their efforts, substitute Dany N’Guessan was denied by a brilliant reflex save from Tyrell Belford before Williams was handed the moment he craved.

He coolly broke his league duck for Rovers from the spot, sending Belford the wrong way after Coppinger was felled by Drissa Traore.

But Obika had the final word, again, to extend Rovers’ winless streak to six games.

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Doncaster Rovers: Stuckmann; Horsfield, Butler, Jones (Taylor-Sinclair 36), Evina; Wellens; Middleton (N’Guessan 55), Chaplow; Coppinger; Anderson (Forrester 87), A Williams. Unused substitutes: Gobern, Keegan, Marosi, Stewart.

Swindon Town: Belford; Branco, J Williams, Turnbull; Thompson, Traore (Hylton 83); Robert (Obika 71), Ojamaa, Kasim, Brophy; Ajose. Unused substitutes: Ormonde-Ottewill, Balmy, Rodgers, Barry, Johns.

Referee: B Toner (Lancashire).