Another frustrating afternoon at the Keepmoat serving to further peel the gloss from what, despite the prevailing mood, remains an emphatic promotion season.
It took just quarter of an hour for play-off chasing Exeter to take the lead; Ian Lawlor unsighted as Jordan Moore-Taylor’s rocket of a shot flew past him from thirty yards.
But where there is a number 26 on the field there’s always hope; and midway through the half Rovers levelled; Luke McCullough’s pin point cross-field pass picking out Tommy Rowe and his chipped cross was volleyed in at the far post by who else but James Coppinger.
Sadly, that’d be as bright as things got as on the hour Joe Wright handled in the six-yard box to give City a penalty. Lawlor did all he could; saving not only Ryan Harley’s spot-kick, but his follow-up as well, only for David Wheeler to tuck in the second rebound.
Darren Ferguson went for broke. Coppinger, despite being the one-man you sensed might have the nous to get the ball down and change things, was withdrawn and in his place the manager threw on three more forwards; a move that seemed destined to bring goals; though to which side?
The answer was Exeter; with five minutes left Craig Alcock, bereft of passing options between midfield and overloaded attack, dithered in possession and Ollie Watkins robbed him of the ball before squaring for Liam McAlinden to sweep home.
The home ends duly emptied; a downbeat end this season didn’t deserve.
by Glen Wilson