James Coppinger scored a brilliant equaliser in the 102nd minute to salvage a point for Doncaster Rovers in an extraordinary League One derby thriller with Hull City.
The veteran made his return from injury for a match which, as part of the celebrations for his final season at the club, Doncaster wore a special gold shirt designed by Coppinger and his sons.
He came on with four minutes to go with his side 3-2 down and, after a lengthy stoppage for an injury to Hull’s George Honeyman, was the hero with a stunning free-kick at the death.
It looked like being Hull’s day to underline their promotion credentials in this top-of-the-table clash after a superb first half, in which Mallik Wilks added to his midweek hat-trick with two headers in the space of five minutes.
Jacob Greaves scored his first goal for his hometown club after Reece James had pulled a goal back for Doncaster, who were given another lifeline in the second half when Omar Bogle’s penalty set the stage for Coppinger.
Story of the match
Hull struggled to make an impact in the opening stages of the match but when they began to show their threat, it led to a brilliantly thrilling first half. Their first chance fell to Greaves from a Honeyman free-kick but he saw it too late to attempt a proper shot, and he would have to wait just a little longer for his first goal.
In the meantime a more familiar goal threat came to the fore, and Wilks carried on right where he left off on Wednesday night with the opener. Callum Elder delivered a perfect free-kick from the byline, and the former Doncaster loanee glanced in from close range.
Just five minutes later, Hull’s top scorer had his 17th goal of the season. This time Greg Docherty provided the ammunition, floating a cross from the left which allowed Wilks to ghost in and put another header beyond goalkeeper Ellery Balcombe.
Josh Magennis might have stretched their lead even further after Lewis Coyle dispossessed a sloppy Josh Sims, but Joe Wright got enough of a deflection for Balcombe to make the save. That kept Doncaster in the contest, and they made the most of it by gaining a lifeline shortly after.
Having not threatened the goal all match, a flurry of chances came as Tom Anderson and Bogle both had headers cleared from consecutive corners, but before the defence had time to catch breath Reece James had blasted a venomous strike from the edge of the area which flew past Matt Ingram.
But Hull were still irresistible in attack, especially on the counter, and combined with their set-piece prowess it was too much for their hosts. Anderson, returning from concussion, made two fantastic blocks to deny Docherty strikes on goal, but the next corner did the damage as Greaves nudged in Honeyman’s delivery, to the obvious delight of his team mates as well as himself.
Keane Lewis-Potter came close to adding his name to the scoresheet in added time of the first half, only to head another Honeyman delivery too close to the keeper. The youngster was gifted a far bigger chance early in the second half, but after Balcombe sliced a clearance straight to him in tragic fashion, the Lewis-Potter’s chip rebounded off the base of the post.
Doncaster had begun to show some threat before that as Jon Taylor aimed narrowly over and Anderson was also the wrong side of the bar with a header from a James corner. They also had two huge shouts for a penalty, claiming Coyle had blocked a Bogle striker with his arm and then begging again for a foul in the box from the following corner.
At the third time of asking, they were finally given a way back into the match by referee Charles Breakspear. Sims went down under pressure from Wilks, and Bogle stepped up to convert the spot-kick for his first goal since signing for the club in January.
Doncaster threw everything at it in the closing stages and, with the help of an extra man when Honeyman was forced off with a concerning injury which required lengthy treatment, Coppinger stepped up at the last with a stunning goal worthy of finishing an incredible contest.
Man of the match: George Honeyman (Hull)
The midfielder displayed his class yet again, in open play but especially with a dead ball, providing chance after chance for the rest of a hungry Tigers pack. Hull will hope his recovery is a quick one.