Doncaster Rovers’ bid to reach the FA Cup fourth round for the first time in four seasons failed as they crashed out at home to League One bottom club Stevenage.
The game got off to a slow start with the visitors keen to impose themselves in more than way one. Boss Paul Dickov reacted furiously on the touchline to a heavy challenge from Ashton on Cotterill.
It took until the 11th minute for either side to muster an attempt on goal. Duffy drifted inside but his low, drilled effort was easily gathered by Day.
Moments later Stevenage registered their first shot, Morais cutting in from the right but firing well wide of the target.
Rovers began to show signs of upping the tempo as firstly Furman linked neatly with Syers but dragged his shot wide, and then Cotterill picked up on a loose ball and lashed an effort over the bar.
The theme of long range attempts continued as Zoko tried his luck from distance but his effort lacked power and direction.
Rovers’ best moment of a half hour that lacked any sort of quality came when Wakefield got forward on the right, whipped a cross to the back post but Brown was unable to steer his effort on target.
The visitors unquestionably would have been happier with their start to the contest, appearing unphased and more than willing to match Rovers physically.
Morais was causing problems down Stevenage’s right. His trickery and then deep cross found its way to Freeman but his weak effort was saved comfortably by Turnbull.
Freeman then found space in a useful area and drilled a powerful effort just off target as the visitors ended the half on top but unable to break the deadlock following a very low key half of FA Cup football.
Rovers began the second half under pressure from their frustrated fans to up the tempo and exert some pressure on Stevenage.
But there were ominous signs from the restart as Doncaster gifted possession to the visitors and insisted on rather hopeful long balls from defensive areas.
Soon after, from a Stevenage long ball, the visitors opened the scoring. Quinn slipped dealing with a routine ball over the top and allowed ZOKO to nip in and coolly slot past Turnbull.
It could have been worse for the hosts when the lively Freeman burst in from the left and saw his shot saved by Turnbull.
Dickov did not hang around in removing Cotterill and Furman for Forrester and Paynter.
But it was the visitors who were not just ahead but controlling the game, and looking more likely to increase their lead. Haber showed good strength to bustle his way into the box but his dangerous cross was cut out by Turnbull.
Forrester showed a glimmer of hope for Doncaster when his nifty footwork created space for an opening on the edge of the box but his effort lacked power.
But on 64 minutes Doncaster found themselves with a mountain to climb as they once again switched off from a corner and allowed defender HARTLEY to rise unchallenged and head home powerfully.
The mood was one of growing frustration as Stevenage appeared to be in total control and Doncaster unable to barely string two passes together.
But out of nothing, and in a rare moment of quality from the home side, Rovers were handed a lifeline when the ball bounced kindly for FORRESTER in the box and the winger superbly fired home his first goal for Rovers.
Bennett then came on for Brown as Dickov freshened up his frontline and the disgruntled home fans got behind their side.
Forrester looked the likeliest but his dangerous cross evaded everyone, while Woods’ tame shot from distance was easy for Day.
The game was seeminly put to bed in the final minute when Freeman led a Stevenage counter attack, fed Zoko who then crossed for CHARLES to stroke it home.
There was almost a late twist when WAKEFIELD rather fortuitously found the top corner with a hooked shot, and then Turnbull was fortunate to receive only a yellow card after bringing down Doughty who raced clear, but Stevenage survived the dramatic finish to book their spot in the last 32.