DEFLATED Doncaster Rovers are hanging onto their Championship status by the skin of their teeth after being well beaten by Birmingham City.
Freddie Piquionne headed Rovers in front after four minutes but a physical Blues side battled back to take the spoils with goals from David Murphy, Chris Burke and Marlon King.
The month of March was always going to be pivotal for Rovers - but from nine games they have won just once and collected seven points.
Dean Saunders says his side must now win four of their last six games to preserve the club's second tier status.
Rovers were quick out of the blocks and Piquionne powerfully headed home Simon Gillett's perfect right wing cross to put the hosts ahead.
But the Blues responded well and moments after King had lashed a shot against the bar, Murphy headed home from close range after Nikola Zigic's header was saved superbly by Carl Ikeme.
Saunders' men were again guilty of spurning good chances as Gillett saw his close range shot shortly after the restart blocked brilliantly by Boaz Myhill in the Birmingham goal.
El Hadji Diouf then lifted an effort over the bar from inside the box with only Myhill to beat.
And Rovers were made to pay the ultimate price when livewire winger Chris Burke curled in a magnificent effort just after the hour.
Doncaster threw bodies forward in attempt to level but struggled to create any more clear cut openings.
And the game was up when Murphy's clever cross field pass picked out King, who had been a constant threat, to finish first time from the edge of the box with Rovers' defence all-at-sea.
Rovers had again given their all - but again came up short against a side packed full of quality.
Saunders now faces a huge task to pick his players up for next Saturday's trip to Leicester City.
His team will be at least four points shy of safety - possibly more depending on Saturday's results - and have just six games left to try and conjure up an escape from the drop.