Doncaster Rovers (1) 1
Birmingham City (1) 3
Murphy 15, Burke 61, King 80
Admission £27, Programme £3,
Attendance 8,656 (1,586 away fans)
Earlier in the season, Rovers lost the reverse fixture 2-1 at St.Andrews, when a Marlon King double cancelled out Marc-Antoine Fortune's opening goal for the south Yorkshire side.
Tonight, Rovers and Blues, both needed the points for completely different reasons, in so much as; play off chasing Birmingham City kicked off tonight in 6th place, 2 points behind both Brighton & Hove Albion and Middlesbrough (who by way of a coincidence play each other tomorrow) and 'Donny Rovers', despite their creditable 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace in midweek, slipped to the bottom of the table by virtue of Portsmouth picking up all 3 points in a 2-0 win v Hull City. Which means Pompey must've created at least two more chances on Tuesday night, than they did when I saw them play at the Ricoh Arena last weekend.
27 Ikeme, 3 Friend, 11 Lockwood, 31 Ilunga,
41 Beye (24 Dumbuya - 75mins ),
16 Oster (26 Coppinger - 82' ), 17 Barnes, 18 Gillett,
10 Diouf, 19 Piquionne (9 Brown - 67mins), 22 Robert
Unused Subs - 21 Hird, 23 Bennett
1 Myhill, 3 Murphy, 4 Caldwell, 6 Ramage, 24 Davies,
7 Burke (22 Redmond - 87mins ), 8 N'daw,
11 Townsend (15 Elliott - 64' ), 12 Mutch, 9 King,
19 Zigic (10 Huseklepp - 87mins )
Unused Subs - 13 Doyle, 14 Gomis
Tonight, just like last time these two teams met, Rovers scored first, but couldn't hold onto their lead.
A few of Dean Saunders players heads dropped, after David Murphy equalised for City and they lost their rhythm and composure altogether and caved in after Chris Burke put the visitors ahead in the 61st minute.
Until that point, 'Donny' had given a fairly good account of themselves, though even without the inspirational presence of Keith Fahey, the visitors evidently had a better calibre of players than the relegation threatened home side, in all departments. After that, Birmingham were passing the ball around at will and finding loads of space and gaps in the home side's all but not existent rearguard and midfield.
The best team won and the second best team are now rooted to the foot of the table, having played a game more than all the other teams at the 'trapdoor to oblivion' end of the Championship with a goal difference of minus 32.
Truth be told, Doncaster were perhaps a bit fortunate that City spared them any further misery by really turning the screw late in the game, to a backdrop of a celebrating away end and three rapidly emptying home stands.
£27 to watch just 80 minutes of football? Donny folk must be loaded!It's still mathematically possible for Rovers to avoid the drop, no honestly!
But the bookies would probably give you the same odds on them staying up now, as you'd get on me finding tonight's half time 'entertainment' waiting for me in my jacuzzi, when I get home from Staveley Miners Welfare tomorrow night.
What I'm saying here is, it probably ain't going to happen.
And the reasons for that are two fold:
1) I don't really have a jacuzzi
2) I've done some fairly gung ho and scary stuff in my time, but I've never been insane enough to have 'relations' with a Donny bird!!!
Incidentally, Doncaster Rovers need to get their PA system fixed, when the dancers (actual name the Vikettes) were introduced to the crowd, it sounded as if the announcer had called them the Vagettes ... Oo-er missus!
I'm not saying Rovers relegation isn't going to happen though.
Because it more than likely is!
Apologies to my many friends in Doncaster, who have loyally and commendably stood by your local club through some fairly turbulent times, but I'm sure you're all resigned to your fate this season now anyway and most likely already were long before Chris Hughton's side rolled into town and fast-tracked your inevitable demise.
I'm not one to single out any player for criticism, but it is a mystery to me how the words 'John Oster' and 'Championship footballer' belong in the same sentence.
I remember him bursting onto the scene as an impressive youngster at Grimsby Town and he's even played in the top flight for Everton.
But Rovers are his 7th different club since then (he also went back to Grimsby on loan) and somewhere along the way he seems to have misplaced his zip, promise, pace and the ability to pass the ball accurately or beat an opponent that he once had, which his a shame.
We're all entitled to an off day at work every so often, but Rovers manager Dean Saunders should have replaced him long before the 82nd minute, when it was already too late for James Coppinger to make a blind bit of difference.
It had all started so promisingly for Rovers, when Frederic Piquionne's headed home Simon Gillett's cross in the 4th minute.
But despite briefly threatening to build on their early lead, it soon became apparent that they had peaked too soon and when Marlon King smacked the ball against the crossbar, it was always a case of when City would take the impetus and take control, not if.
Rovers joy was short lived and when Rovers keeper, Carl Ikeme, parried Nikola Zigic's effort on 15 minutes, David Murphy was on hand to bundle the ball over the line for the equaliser.
On the half hour, Marlon King rounded Carl Ikeme in the penalty area and then went down.
I was in line with the incident and King either lost his footing after overrunning the ball or hit the deck on purpose, because the Ikeme's arm was nowhere near him and no contact had been made.
King didn't appeal for a penalty, but was booked for assimilation and roundly booed by the home fans at that end of the ground every time he touched the ball after that.
He had the last laugh in the end though.
From some angles it must've looked like a stonewall penalty, but it wasn't.
In the second half Nikola Zigic, who was a handful for Doncaster's defence all night, managed to hit the post from close range when it looked like a certain goal.
But Chris Burke spared the big strikers blushes, when he 'pinged' home an unstoppable 25 yard strike into the top corner to give Blues the lead that had been inevitable and on the cards for a while now.
Rovers were visibly deflated and while there was a 'disco', a conga and a lot of noisy bouncing in the away end, a number of home fans started to drift away.
On 80 minutes, Dave Murphy passed the ball into the right hand channel for Marlon King to run on to.
With two Rovers defenders half heartedly chasing after him, King stayed on his feet, in yards of space, and slotted the ball calmly past the woefully exposed Carl Ikeme with ease.
The trickle of home fans heading for the exits now became a flood. Doncaster had set off at a cracking pace and got the home crowd buoyed up, but they couldn't sustain their early impetus.
And once City had got out of first gear, there was only going to be one winner tonight.
In a nutshell, Birmingham kept right on to the end, against a very tired and weary looking Rovers side.
Blues fans will now bit watching out eagerly for tomorrow's Brighton v Middlesbrough result, while Rovers supporters will be drowning their sorrows and just wishing this was all over so they could have a couple of months respite before they start next season down in the the third tier of the Football League.
Me? I'll be at Inkersall Road, Staveley, watching the FA Vase semi final 2nd leg between Staveley Miners Welfare and Dunston UTS, where the visitors will be carrying a 1-0 advantage over, from their 1st leg victory at Wellington Road last week.