Matt Smith returned to haunt Paul Dickov as his second half equaliser took Doncaster Rovers to a replay at Ashton Gate.
Smith, who scored twice for Dickov’s Oldham side in their famous FA Cup win over Liverpool two years ago, headed home to cancel out Luke McCullough’s first ever goal for Rovers.
The on-loan Fulham man sat out Bristol City’s FA Cup second round game but was given special dispensation by his parent club to play in today’s third round tie.
Rovers’ intense pressing disrupted the visitors’ passing game and it was the home side that had the better of a goalless first period.
Doncaster carried on where they left off after the break and got their rewards when McCullough hooked home from a corner.
But, to their credit, League One leaders City refused to be beaten and rescued what had seemed like an unlikely draw when Smith headed in Luke Ayling’s cross.
The hosts started brightly and the first two sights of goal fell to Dean Furman, who sent a looping header over the bar before City goalkeeper Frank Fielding had to be alert to block the South African’s effort following a clever pass from Harry Forrester.
At the other end Sam Johnstone had to turn shot round the post by Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and block a close range effort from Wade Elliott, while Luke Ayling hit a deflected shot just wide.
Richie Wellens was at the heart of Rovers’ good work and his excellent break from midfield teed up James Coppinger but his shot was deflected wide.
Rovers ended the first half on top but could not turn that pressure into goals, with City somewhat grateful to hear the half time whistle.
Furman curled an effort just wide as the second half began at similar breakneck speed.
And the deadlock was finally broken on 50 minutes when Andy Butler got his head to Harry Forrester’s corner and McCullough spectacularly hooked the ball home to give Doncaster a deserved lead.
Within seconds Coppinger tested Fielding’s handling, before Emmanuel-Thomas forced another save out of Johnstone from distance.
McCullough breathed a huge of relief just after the hour mark when his slip allowed Emmanuel-Thomas in but Johnstone denied the former Rovers loanee.
Furman then blazed a chance over before City enjoyed a better spell as Rovers gave away possession too cheaply.
And the visitors made the pressure count on 75 minutes when Smith got above his marker to head home Ayling’s right wing cross.
Substitute Kyle Bennett went close to regaining Rovers’ lead when his drilled effort from distance was just about dealt with by Fielding.
And the winger missed a glorious chance to win it in stoppage time when he fired over the bar from close range after good work from James Coppinger.Rovers (4-1-4-1): Johnstone; Wabara, Butler, McCullough, Stevens; Keegan; Coppinger, Wellens, Furman, Robinson, Main. Subs: Marosi, McCombe, Wakefield, Middleton, Main, Tyson, Bennett.
Bristol City (3-5-2): Fielding; Ayling, Flint, Williams; Little, K Smith, Elliott, Kane, Bryan; Emmanuel-Thomas, M Smith. Subs: Osbourne, Wagstaff, Richards, Freeman, Wynter, Cunningham, Pack.