THERE may still be another instalment remaining in Doncaster Rovers’ long and slightly tiresome Keepmoat Stadium goodbye in 2017-18, but more significant developments are likely to arrive behind closed doors in the coming days.
Darren Ferguson will meet with his board in further talks regarding next season’s budget, with Rovers’ manager having spoken publicly about the need for some quality recruits, specifically in the final third, to push the club forward after a campaign of consolidation.
Ferguson’s words possessed plenty of credence on a low-key night against AFC Wimbledon that was quintessential end-of-season fare – and which also displayed Rovers’ attacking deficiencies for sizeable spells.
Rovers – in their fifth Keepmoat outing in the space of 18 days – huffed and puffed, but the invention and incision was minimal on an evening to be endured rather than enjoyed, especially in a bereft first period.
The hosts did at least up the tempo on the restart, but all too often, a lack of composure, poor decisions or inability to gamble proved a troublesome Achilles heel – seemingly for the umpteenth time this season.
It extended Rovers’ run without a goal to over four games, some 385 minutes, and it was all too easy to see why the hosts came into the game with the sixth worst goals tally in the division, even if their defensive statistics stack up rather better.
For the visitors, it was a noteworthy night for much more profitable reasons as they claimed the point they needed to secure their safety to gild their first visit to the Keepmoat.
Scenes of celebrations followed the final whistle as delighted Dons players tossed their shirts into the crowd amid ecstatic scenes among the 482-strong away contingent, who enjoyed their evening far more than the hosts.
Rovers, meanwhile, set a 60-point target to finish the season, are marooned in lower-mid table and will now fall short following a second successive underwhelming finish to a campaign.
Judging by some of his reactions on the touchline in the first half, Ferguson did not relish what he was seeing either, with Wimbledon being the ones who displayed any limited authority on show.
They looked the team with the cause and their best moment arrived a few minutes before the break when a angled shot from Jon Meades flew inches wide.
Another half-decent chance saw Joe Pigott head straight at Ian Lawlor following neat work on the right from Barry Fuller, with the snap and urgency coming from the Dons.
After a forgettable first-half, Ferguson was at last stirred in life in applauding a rare delivery from Niall Mason which flashed across goal early in the second period, before his side’s first genuine chance finally arrived.
A set-piece on the left from Mason was helped on by Tom Anderson, with John Marquis’ header under pressure grasped by the underworked George Long, on loan from Sheffield United.
It was the precursor to some belated home pressure, with interval substitute Rodney Kongolo drilling wide before Matty Blair fired over.
An unsighted Long soon turned away Ben Whiteman’s low strike with the visitors on the back foot for the first time.
The Dons went close to nicking it on two occasions through substitute Kwesi Appiah, who hooked over before being denied by a key Mason block.
Doncaster Rovers: Lawlor; Blair, Anderson, Butler, Mason; Whiteman; Houghton, Ben Khemis (Amos 74), Beestin (Kiwomya 60), May (Kongolo 45), Marquis. Unused substitutes: Marosi, Baudry, Morris, McCullough.
AFC Wimbledon: Long; Fuller, Oshilaja, Charles, Kennedy; Parrett (Forrester 74), Abdou, Meades, Barcham; Pigott (Appiah 64), Taylor. Unused substitutes: McDonnell, Robinson, Sibbick, Kaja, Egan.
Referee: J Brooks (Leicestershire).