Doncaster Rovers have not beaten top-flight opposition in the FA Cup since a third-round success against Queens Park Rangers in 1985 and their wait continues after Stephen Hunt's penalty denied them the scalp of Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The Championship side were in a winning position after quick goals from Billy Sharp and James Hayter overturned Nenad Milijas's 38th-minute opener. But Wolves ensured the contest ended in parity with Hunt's equaliser in the 58th minute.
Sean O'Driscoll, the Doncaster manager, has a reputation for tactical acumen yet his defensive planning was almost undone inside 30 seconds when his three-man central defence of Sam Hird, James O'Connor and Adam Lockwood were caught out by Steven Fletcher's cross to partner Stephen Ward. Fortunately for the hosts, Ward's shot just missed the near post. Christophe Berra then strode forward to test Neil Sullivan, but the Yorkshire club soon woke up with Sharp scoring from close range only to be penalised for a push on Richard Stearman.
Rovers were neat in their approach play but it was Wolves who went in front in spectacular fashion. Their Serbian midfielder, Milijas, picked up a loose ball 30 yards from goal and sent it flying past Sullivan. "It was a fabulous strike," said the Wolves manager Mick McCarthy.
Sharp drew Doncaster level with another fine goal, turning his marker on the edge of the box and driving low inside the bottom left-hand corner for his 11th of the campaign. O'Driscoll purred: "Billy's goal was top-drawer. I've watched the two Wolves centre-backs curtail [Fernando] Torres and [Didier] Drogba and the goal he scored was first class, to get that much power from that range and beat the goalkeeper after turning the defender."
A second Doncaster goal arrived 120 seconds later as Joseph Mills, the left wing-back, crossed, John Oster cushioned a header back into the six-yard box and Hayter volleyed neatly into the bottom corner.
Wolves were gifted an equaliser in the 58th minute, though, when Hird tripped Matt Jarvis just inside the box and Hunt levelled from the spot. The visitors now scented victory and Ward could have been the hero but fired high into the away fans.
Ward went close again with a header, and Jarvis with a curling shot but Wolves' hopes of avoiding a replay a week on Tuesday ended with George Elokobi's 76th-minute sending off after he flew in to contest a high ball and left James Coppinger on the floor.
"Harsh," was McCarthy's verdict on referee Anthony Taylor's decision. "The referee said it was for serious foul play, but it was a genuine attempt to head the ball. In the second half we deserved an equaliser and if we'd kept 11 men on the pitch we were the team that were likely to win."
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Man of the match: O'Connor
Match rating: 7/10
Attendance: 8,616Reuse content