Match verdict: Oldham 2 Doncaster Rovers 2

Oldham Ath v Doncaster Rovers Skybet League One''Rovers nathan tyson challenges keeper paul rabchuka for goal after keeper spills ball
Oldham Ath v Doncaster Rovers Skybet League One''Rovers nathan tyson challenges keeper paul rabchuka for goal after keeper spills ball
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Take out your growing list of the positive attributes of this Rovers side and stick the word character on it.

The excellent run from pre-Christmas into the New Year brought plenty of talk of phenomenal workrate, strong desire and some pretty decent football.

NSST 3-1-15 Oldham Ath v Doncaster Rovers Skybet League One''Rovers james coppinge celebrates

NSST 3-1-15 Oldham Ath v Doncaster Rovers Skybet League One''Rovers james coppinge celebrates

But just when it appeared that run was coming to an end, Rovers showed they had the character to battle to the end as well as the legs.

Paul Dickov hit the nail on the head when he said afterwards that his side would have lost that game earlier in the season.

They would have, and probably by a wider margin that the 2-0 deficit they found themselves in until the 78th minute at Boundary Park on Saturday.

Instead, they added another point to the total and took their unbeaten run to four league matches - their best stretch in League One this term.

NSST 3-1-15 Oldham Ath v Doncaster Rovers Skybet League One''Rovers nathan tyson challenges keeper paul rabchuka for goal after keeper spills ball

NSST 3-1-15 Oldham Ath v Doncaster Rovers Skybet League One''Rovers nathan tyson challenges keeper paul rabchuka for goal after keeper spills ball

Nathan Tyson struck less than three minutes after Oldham has former Rovers loanee Joe Mills sent off for a terrible challenge.

And then with the last kick of the game, five minutes into time added on, James Coppinger drilled in the equaliser.

How much that was deserved remains up for debate. It was Rovers’ worst performance for some time. They were poor in the first half and looked to have been shut out of the game until Mills’ dismissal gave them hope 15 minutes from time.

But it is hard to take anything away from a side who kicked open the door once they found a crack in it.

NSST 3-1-15 Oldham Ath v Doncaster Rovers Skybet League One''Rovers james coppinger cuts in for the goal

NSST 3-1-15 Oldham Ath v Doncaster Rovers Skybet League One''Rovers james coppinger cuts in for the goal

In terms of the narrative of Saturday afternoon, Rovers were always going to play second fiddle to the most talked-about football club of the week.

The Ched Evans saga continued to hang over Oldham. A packed Boundary Park press box showed the national media were not yet ready to let the issue die in this corner of Lancashire.

A few chants from no more than a dozen supporters, followed by rather heated arguments between fans, were as much as the Evans situation was felt in the stands.

But on the pitch, it could be argued there was an effect.

NSST 3-1-15 Oldham Ath v Doncaster Rovers Skybet League One''Rovers suybstitute curtis main misses a chance

NSST 3-1-15 Oldham Ath v Doncaster Rovers Skybet League One''Rovers suybstitute curtis main misses a chance

Oldham started well, almost as if there was a collective point to prove from the Latics players. Who needs Ched and the baggage he would bring?

The Latics were brighter for much of the first half, quicker to the ball and much more composed in possession.

While Rovers have recently dealt with opposition of arguably a higher standard with relative comfort, they struggled on Saturday to deal with Oldham’s enthusiasm.

A defence that seemed so assured and calm suddenly appeared nervy and panicky. Decision-making evaded the calm heads, passes were mis-placed.

The perfect example of this came early on. Luke McCullough defended a long ball really well but hesitated with his clearance, taking a horrible touch to send the ball out for a corner from which Jonathan Forte should have done better with a powerful header.

This was also the first introduction to life without Dean Furman for Rovers. Africa Cup of Nations bound Furman has been the driving force of the 4-1-4-1 formation with his box to box running ensuring Theo Robinson was not isolated.

NSST 3-1-15 Oldham Ath v Doncaster Rovers Skybet League One''Rovers paul keegan

NSST 3-1-15 Oldham Ath v Doncaster Rovers Skybet League One''Rovers paul keegan

Kyle Bennett was selected as his replacement but showed filling the role will not be an overnight job. Bennett was dynamic enough but not necessarily in the right way. His instinct is to be in a position to receive the ball and take his man on, rather than making direct runs off the ball to become the furthest player forward.

The change of personnel disrupted Rovers attacking play, particularly in the first half when they looked somewhat disjointed. Their best attacking moves mainly came from individual runs.

One of those almost brought a stunning goal for Harry Forrester. He received a pass 30 yards out, beat his man and curled a superb effort which crashed off the bar on 14 minutes.

Despite not being the better side in the first half, Rovers did have the better chances.

Bennett should have done better when striking first time from a Enda Stevens cut back but skewed horribly wide while Andy Butler was close with a header from a corner.

But it was the hosts who grabbed the opening goal on 23 minutes, a horrible one from Rovers’ perspective.

Andy Butler misjudged the bounce of a long ball forward, letting Forte in to surge forward down the right. Three Rovers defenders were then all drawn towards Forte, leaving Ibehre completely unmarked, 15 yards out and central to finish comfortably when he received the pass.

Forrester again hit the woodwork as Rovers looked to equalise, allowing a Stevens pass to drift across his body before lashing a shot which beat Paul Rachubka but ricocheted out off the upright.

Rovers came out well for the second half but looked to have been put to bed on 54 minutes when Oldham grabbed their second.

And the hosts could thank assistant referee Ross Joyce for the goal.

A corner came in, Elokobi headed, Sam Johnstone parried and Butler hooked the ball away.

As Oldham appealed for a goal, Joyce flagged that the ball had crossed the line.

The door looked to have been closed for Rovers after the second goal. Oldham retreated into themselves and seemed more than capable of shutting out their visitors.

Tyson and Curtis Main were thrown on in the hunt for a route back. While Tyson’s running was superb, the build-up for Rovers became all too basic with long balls forward.

Yet everything changed with 15 minutes to go.

The sending off of Mills insensed the home support, largely because referee Carl Boyeson initially allowed play to continue which sparked ugly scenes.

But there can be no arguements with the red card. Mills lunged in two footed on Reece Wabara and deserved to walk.

Three minutes later, Rovers were definitely back in the game, again with a tinge of controversy.

Coppinger lofted a ball into the box, Tyson rose along with Rachubka and the pair collided. Tyson came off the better and managed to hook the ball over the line from on the floor.

The remainder of the game was frantic, with Rovers piling forward in search of the equaliser.

But they struggled to create clear cut chances as Oldham attempted to shut up shop.

Five minutes of added time brought hope. And just when it seemed as though time had run out, with mere seconds to go, Coppinger collected the ball on the right, cut inside past three defenders and drilled a low shot into the far corner.

Nine unbeaten on the road. And they can thank strong character for the latest game without defeat.

Oldham: Rachubka 7, B Wilson 6, J Wilson 7, Elokobi 7, Mills 5, Winchester 7 (Mellor 79 6), Kelly 7, Philliskirk 6, Jones 7, Ibehre 7, Forte 7 (Morgan-Smith 84).

Subs not used: Coleman, Brown, Dieng, Dayton, Poleon, Morgan-Smith.

Rovers: Johnstone 6, Wabara 6, McCullough 6, Butler 6, Stevens 6, Keegan 7, Coppinger 7, Wellens 7, Bennett 6 (Tyson 60 7), Forrester 7, Robinson 6 (Main 60 6).

Subs not used: Marosi, Wakefield, McCombe, De Val, Middleton.

Att: 4,181 (610)

KEY MOMENT

Joe Mills’ sending off changed the game with 15 minutes to go. Prior to his dismissal, Rovers looked to have been shut out of the game, with Oldham appearing set to comfortably protect their two goal advantage. But the hosts going down to ten men gave Rovers fresh impetus and they snatched the opportunity with both hands.

VIEWPOINT

There was plenty to be disappointed in from this Rovers performance. There were a few nervy moments in defence and the attacking fluidity of recent weeks was largely lacking. But the manner in which they secured a point when the situation seemed hopeless was certainly laudible. Rovers have added another string to their bow.

HERO

James Coppinger was always going to be the hero after grabbing the equaliser at the death. But the manner in which he did it only adds to the achievement. A week shy of his 34th birthday and after 95 minutes of intense football, he had plenty left in the tank for a marauding run which set up his equalising strike.

MANAGERS’ VIEW

Paul Dickov

“We knew it was going to be a tough, tough game. They’ve had a tough week and we knew they were going to come out flying at us today.

“We were really angry at half-time because we spoke at length about how they would come at us and get their fans up.

“But we contributed to our own downfall. We made too many mistakes.”

Lee Johnson

“I am a football manager and I have had to prepare my team.

“The people who have come out with fantastic credit are the players and the office staff.

“It has been nice to be part of a team under siege and everyone stuck together.”

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NSST 3-1-15 Oldham Ath v Doncaster Rovers Skybet League One''Rovers harry forreester hits the woodwork

NSST 3-1-15 Oldham Ath v Doncaster Rovers Skybet League One''Rovers harry forreester hits the woodwork

NSST 3-1-15 Oldham Ath v Doncaster Rovers Skybet League One''Rovers harry forrester

NSST 3-1-15 Oldham Ath v Doncaster Rovers Skybet League One''Rovers harry forrester

NSST 3-1-15 Oldham Ath v Doncaster Rovers Skybet League One''Rovers paul Dickov complains about a decision

NSST 3-1-15 Oldham Ath v Doncaster Rovers Skybet League One''Rovers paul Dickov complains about a decision