George Lloyd’s 96th minute winner earned Grimsby Town their first away victory over Doncaster Rovers since 1989 as they came from behind to claim all three points at the Eco-Power Stadium.
In a game of few moments of genuine quality, the Mariners looked to be heading for a third consecutive defeat after Aidan Barlow’s superb first-half strike for the hosts.
But a late equaliser from Niall Maher got them back on level terms and as both sides pushed forward in a frantic finale after nine added minutes was signalled, substitute Lloyd pounced in front of almost 3,000 travelling Town supporters to snatch the win.
Six changes were made to the Grimsby starting XI after the home defeat by Hartlepool United on Good Friday, with Josh Emmanuel, Harry Clifton, Bryn Morris, Anthony Glennon, John McAtee and Ryan Taylor all coming into the team as Michee Efete, Gavan Holohan, Alex Hunt, Danny Amos, Otis Khan and Lloyd made way.
Max Crocombe started in goal, with Andy Smith, Luke Waterfall and Maher forming an unchanged back three. Emmanuel and Glennon were the wing-backs, with Clifton and Morris alongside Kieran Green in midfield and McAtee behind Taylor in attack.
Efete, Hunt, Khan and Lloyd were all named on the bench, where they were joined by Danilo Orsi, Owen Gallacher and Evan Khouri.
Doncaster head coach Danny Schofield made two alterations to his line-up following their 1-0 loss at Gillingham last time out, with Kieran Agard and James Brown coming back into the team.
Rovers started the day 12th in the Sky Bet League Two table, three points and three places ahead of the Mariners, with both sides settled in mid-table but looking to bounce back from disappointment at the start of the long Easter weekend by earning all three points.
After a quiet opening to the game, a strong run by Emmanuel down the right led to the first corner on four minutes. Glennon’s delivery from the flag was headed up into the air but neither Waterfall nor Maher could get to the loose ball and it was cleared.
Agard had the first chance of the afternoon for the home side on nine minutes as he got the ball 30 yards out, turned and hit a low shot which Crocombe got down to stop.
Soon afterwards, a foul on Clifton gave Town a free kick on their left, close to the Doncaster corner flag. Glennon played it to Morris in space on the edge of the box but after he needed to take a touch, his shot was charged down and Clifton’s rebound went over the bar.
Waterfall became the first to be shown the yellow card after he brought Agard down and a lengthy stoppage followed while the striker received treatment further up the pitch, before eventually being passed fit to continue.
Agard’s next involvement was to win a corner when his cross was blocked by Waterfall and the flag-kick led to a volley from Doncaster captain Tommy Rowe, which was blocked and cleared.
McAtee was penalised for a tackle from behind on Rowe as the game reached the 20-minute mark but Ben Close’s free kick from the home left curled beyond the far post for a goal kick.
The stop-start nature of the game continued as Emmanuel was brought down to the right of the home penalty area but after Morris’ free kick was headed away, the ball rebounded off Maher to Doncaster goalkeeper Jonathan Mitchell.
The contest had lacked quality so far but that changed on 26 minutes when the home side took the lead. A throw-in from Luke Molyneux on the left was worked to BARLOW and he looked up from 25 yards out before curling a superb shot which Crocombe was unable to keep out despite getting fingertips to.
Smith was booked for a foul near the halfway line, before Clifton was crowded out on the edge of the box after a ball from McAtee as Town looked for a response to going behind.
The Mariners won a corner on the right on 32 minutes but Taylor was beaten to Glennon’s delivery at the far post and the hosts cleared.
Another corner followed when a cross from Green had to be tipped over the bar by Mitchell but again, the away side were unable to profit from it.
Doncaster went close to a second goal eight minutes before the break when Barlow played the ball back to Close on the edge of the box and after working an opening, he let fly with a shot which beat Crocombe but bounced back off the bar to safety.
Green survived a home penalty appeal soon afterwards as the referee instead pointed for a corner, which went all the way across goal and out for a goal kick.
McAtee looked to have created a chance as he made his way into the box at the other end but he was then crowded out and the ball fell for Emmanuel, although he could not work an opening for a shot.
Zain Westbrook then sent a low shot just wide of the far post from a narrow angle after Crocombe had come a long way out of his penalty area to challenge for the ball on the Town left.
Five added minutes were played at the end of the first half and Taylor became the latest to see the yellow card as he was booked for backing into defender Ben Nelson.
A long throw from Maher was headed behind for a corner in the last of the extra minutes but Glennon’s delivery from the right was headed clear.
No further chances came before the half-time whistle, so Doncaster retained the advantage at the interval.
Khan replaced Waterfall before the restart as Town switched to a four-man defence, with Clifton moving to the right of midfield as Khan slotted in on the left.
A long stoppage came when Nelson stayed down after being caught in the air by Clifton and the defender was eventually carried from the pitch on a stretcher, with Ro-Shaun Williams sent on in his place.
McAtee won a throw-in after a nice touch from Taylor gave him space down the right and the pressure continued with another throw but this time, the hosts got the ball clear.
Morris had Town’s first chance of the second half after a long kick by Crocombe was headed down into his path, although the midfielder’s 25-yard effort was straight at keeper Mitchell.
Molyneux stayed down after blocking an Emmanuel cross from the right but he was passed fit to play on and after the game restarted witth a drop ball, it was worked to Glennon and he sent a low attempt wide.
A foul by Clifton on Barlow gave the home side an opportunity to create danger from a free kick inside the Town half but they failed to test Crocombe from it as Williams was unable to stop the ball from going out for a goal kick.
At the other end, a foul on Taylor brought a chance for Town to put pressure on the Doncaster goal, although Glennon’s free kick was headed clear by Williams. The ball was worked back to Glennon on the left and this time, he found Maher with a cross from deep on the left but the centre-back’s header was caught by Mitchell.
Crocombe punched clear from a Molyneux free kick soon afterwards, before Mitchell raced to the edge of his penalty area to challenge Clifton. The midfielder went down and the keepr was booked but the referee ruled the contact had taken place outside the box and blew for a free kick. Glennon’s shot from it looked to have been tipped over the bar by Mitchell but the referee pointed instead for a goal kick, with the Mariners left-back yellow-carded for his protests.
James Brown fired over the bar after cutting inside from the home right, then Lloyd and Orsi were sent on in place of Taylor and McAtee as Town made a double-substitution with six minutes to go.
A corner followed on the away right moments later and it led to the equaliser, as Glennon’s delivery was not fully dealt with and after Orsi’s header led to a scramble, MAHER got the vital touch to take the ball into the net.
Doncaster responded with a corner of their own but Barlow’s header from it went through to Crocombe.
The hosts kept attacking as they aimed to snatch the advantage back and a good chance fell for Barlow when Brown pulled the ball back for him but he could only lift a first-time shot over the bar.
Town were also now looking to win the game and Lloyd saw a header saved by Mitchell after the keeper had punched clear from a Glennon cross.
The fourth official signalled nine added minutes as both sides pushed for all three points, with Adam Long heading through to Crocombe from a Molyneux free kick on the left.
A Maher long throw was dealt with at the other end, before a Mariners penalty appeal was waved away after Lloyd went down.
Lloyd turned a right-wing cross wide at the near post but there was still time for Town to score a dramatic late winner, as Khan played the ball to Clifton and after his low shot was parried by Mitchell, LLOYD followed-up to tap into the roof of the net from close range in front of the travelling fans.
Kyle Hurst replaced Westbrooke and Jack Goodman came on for Barlow in a final roll of the dice for Doncaster but by now, the game had gone for them as Town’s late, late comeback earned them what had seemed an unlikely victory.
The Mariners are next in action on Saturday, when they host Mansfield Town at Blundell Park.