DONCASTER Rovers came from behind to force a 2-2 draw with local rivals Barnsley in their final warm-up game at the Keepmoat Stadium before the 2012-13 campaign gets under way.
The game looks set to mark the last appearance in a Rovers shirt of influential midfielder Brian Stock, expected to sign for Burnley today.
Stock’s last game in a red and white hooped shirt was in the unaccustomed role of centre-back after new signing Rob Jones limped off with a hamstring injury midway through the second half.
The fact that Stock had to play in the back-four underlined the urgent need for reinforcements following the departure of George Friend and youngster Liam Wakefield having joined Shelton Martis on the sidelines in the last few days.
Barnsley’s injury problems started before the game when Mido was carried off during the warm-up, later to be taken to hospital.
His replacement in the starting line-up, Toni Silva, lasted just 17 minutes before limping off to be replaced by Jim O’Brien.
David Perkins went off late on with a cut head after coming off worse in a challenge with David Syers.
With former Cardiff City defender Paul Quinn, who has played the last two games as a trialist, rejecting Rovers’ boss Dean Saunders’ contract offer, the Welshman was forced to play midfielder Syers at right-back.
The Reds edged the opening exchanges but Rovers broke the deadlock on 12 minutes.
Midfielder Martin Woods slipped a marker and found the bottom of the net from the edge of the area to claim his second goal in as many games.
Barnsley drew level on 25 minutes after Jones, who showed his frustration by thumping the floor, put into his own goal for the second time in two games.
Striker Craig Davies’ first touch let him down when well placed in the box on 39 minutes and the chance of a goal was lost.
Rovers’ keeper Gary Woods had another good game and saved well from Perkins early in the second half and also from Davies a split-second later.
Davies pushed the ball just wide of the far post in a one-on-one with Woods on 62 minutes.
Both James Coppinger, probably surprised to still be at the club at this late stage of pre-season, and second half substitute Robbie Blake failed to hit the target with shots on goal.
Davies got the better of Woods, picking his spot in a one-on-one with the keeper on 73 minutes.
Syers put Rovers back on level terms, pouncing from close range after Barnsley keeper Ben Alnwick failed to hold David Cotterill’s 78th minute corner.
“I would like to have called the game off, but obviously we can’t, because you can see we are desperately short of players,” said Saunders.
“There was a great spirit and a great attitude from all of the lads. We found ourselves in a difficult situation and it was arguably the worst back-four (at the end) that Doncaster Rovers have ever fielded.”
Trialist James Harper is likely to be given another run, possibly in tomorrow’s final warm-up at Gainsborough, where Paul Keegan could also return after missing Saturday’s game to attend a family funeral.
“Harper did well and we needed him today,” said Saunders. “He was talking and pulling people into position.”
Reds boss Keith Hill said: “I was pleased with the performance and I was really pleased with the lads’ application. The way we tried to create and the way we defended and if we’d have got beat and played like that I’d have been reasonably happy.”
Rovers: G Woods, Syers, Spurr, Jones (Stock 64), Husband, Coppinger, Harper, M Woods, Cotterill (Morgan-Smith 78), Bennett (Blake 54), Brown (Hawley 46).
Barnsley: Alnwick, Stones (Hassell 58), Foster, McNulty, Wiseman, Perkins (Collins 85), Mellis (Digby 57), Silva (O’Brien 17), Done, Davies, Etuhu (Dagnall 78).
Scorers: Woods 12 & Syers 77 for Rovers; Jones og 25 and Davies 73 for Barnsley.