Doncaster Rovers underlined their promotion credentials by passing a very different and difficult test against Martin Allen’s route-one Barnet side.
But it was far from straightforward and, through no fault of their own, not particularly pleasing on the eye.
A culture clash of epic proportions swung massively in Rovers’ favour courtesy of two first half goals to satisfy any football connoisseur.
A quite stunning volley from James Coppinger and a very stylish slot by man of the match Matty Blair looked to have put Barnet - whose one-dimensional direct approach involved Sam Muggleton hurling long throws into Rovers’ box from every conceivable angle and distance - firmly in their place.
However, the Bees had a sting in their tail.
Second half goals from Bira Dembele and substitute Luke Gambin - both the result of long throws - appeared to have earned the visitors what had seemed at half time a very unlikely share of the spoils.
This Doncaster side is made of sterner stuff nowadays though, and it was Andy Williams who popped up with the winner deep into stoppage time to send the Keepmoat Stadium crowd into a frenzy of joy mixed with pure relief.
What will disappoint Darren Ferguson is that the slightly worrying trend of letting teams off the hook, which happened recently against Luton and Carlisle, almost reared its head again.
Rovers, by far the better team and dominant for the majority of the first half, really ought to have put this game to bed long before the need for the late drama.
Had they really twisted the knife, like their manager has urged them, and gone 3-0 up it would have been game over.
At 2-1 Williams also wasted a glorious opportunity on the break to tee-up Mandeville for a simple finish that would have killed the game.
Barnet’s style of play was unimaginative, uncompromising and unpleasant to watch.
But it almost worked for them, and it was hard to disagree with Ferguson’s view that, given the law of averages, something was eventually going to drop for them as Muggleton continued to throw the kitchen sink at Rovers.
Sadly, so it proved.
Firstly Dembele rose like a salmon to head in a throw from the right wing.
A missile launched down the left wing, from inside Barnet’s own half, was then knocked back across the face of goal by John Akinde for Gambin to turn home with just four minutes remaining.
Daylight robbery it might have been had Barnet made off with a point, although you had to hand them a certain amount of credit for battling their way back into the game, sticking to the task in-hand and executing their plan.
But justice was done when Williams, who moments earlier had been denied what looked like a stonewall penalty and instead was booked for diving, got in front of his man to tuck home Blair’s brilliant cross and spark wild scenes of celebration.
A LUCKY ESCAPE?
Rovers were good, but by no means brilliant, before the break as they continued the pattern of starting games quickly and on the front foot.
By contrast Barnet struggled to string two passes together, hacked at clearances and rather invited the hosts on.
The same pattern continued at the start of the second half too.
Rovers were quite clearly the better outfit and would have been devastated to have only come away with a point. But had it ended 2-2 they would have only had themselves to blame for not ramming home their superiority when they had the chance.
At 2-1 Rovers managed the game fairly well and noticeably ate up time by buying a few seconds here and there, taking their time with set pieces and staying down every now and again. On that front, Rovers appear to be learning.
The character that Rovers showed to net a late winner was also typical of a team challenging at the top end of the table. But it should not have got to that point. Ferguson’s men still need to develop more of a killer instinct.
The Darren Ferguson-effect now appears to be in full swing.
He arrived at the club almost a year ago with a reputation for attacking football and a ‘we’ll score more than you’ mentality.
Only now does that philosophy appear to be rubbing off on his players - and it’s making for interesting viewing almost on a weekly basis.
Rovers have scored in every game they have played this season and are the leading goalscorers in League Two with 25 goals, four more than next best Luton Town.
On a less positive note they are without a clean sheet in five games. At the moment they are a great bet on a Both Teams To Score coupon.
As it turned out, attack was probably the best form of defence against Barnet’s long throw because it seemed inevitable that their weapon would eventually do some damage.
At the expense of conceding a few goals, Rovers fans might just have to get used to high scoring games. It’s just the Darren Ferguson way.
COMPETITION HOTTING UP
Mathieu Baudry came off the bench to bolster Rovers’ rearguard during the closing stages and, through his composure on the ball, gave a brief snapshot of the qualities he will bring to this side. He looks an excellent player, and it’s only a matter of time before he breaks into the team.
All of a sudden Ferguson has one or two people knocking on the door, which augers well.