Peterborough United’s winning start to the season has come to an end after a record-breaking five victories, but that did not tell half the story of a remarkable encounter against Doncaster Rovers.
Posh were faced by former manager Grant McCann at the ABAX Stadium, but it was Steve Evans in the home dugout who grabbed the spotlight after being sent off by referee Darren Bond in the second-half, before a red card was shown to assistant manager Paul Raynor a few seconds later.
However, that should not distract from a lively 1-1 draw which the visitors will be disappointed with after ending a three match goal drought through John Marquis, only for centre-half Ryan Tafazolli to equalise in the second-half to at least keep Posh’s unbeaten run going.
Evans had started with the same side for the sixth match in a row, but the visitors were the better side in first-half and nearly scored after just six minutes.
Right-back Niall Mason went past Siriki Dembele and cut back a cross which was steered towards goal by Tommy Rowe. Aaron Chapman in the Posh goal superbly tipped the shot onto the post and the ball was scrambled out for a corner.
A minute later Mallik Wilks was clear down the right, but his attempt to shoot with the outside of his left foot badly miscued, bringing derision from the home crowd.
Despite the early pressure Posh had a chance to score when striker Matt Godden closed down visiting goalkeeper Marko Marosi, whose clearance went to Jason Cummins. The forward’s lob looked to be on target but lacked a little pace and was headed clear by centre-back Andy Butler.
After his great early save there was less certainty a few minutes later from Chapman who spilt a Herbie Kane effort, but fortunately he was able to get back before the ball spun over the line.
The home side then produced their best move of the match which saw Godden lay the ball off to Cummins who found Mark O’Hara in space. He moved it left to Dembele who managed to push past a couple of challenges before feeding Godden down the left, but the striker shot wide of the far post.
Posh were then angered on the half-hour mark when referee Bond stopped play after Dembele fed Cummins, who was left with just one man to beat. Bond booked Kane for the foul on Dembele before brandishing a yellow card to Posh assistant manager Paul Raynor for his reaction to the awarding of the free-kick.
Raynor would have been even more unhappy 10 minutes late when Doncaster took a deserved lead as Wilks fed Marquis, who moved past a backtracking Alex Woodyard before dinking the ball over Chapman who had gone to ground.
The visitors continued to look the better side after the break and nearly doubled their lead when Marquis fed Wilks, who turned Rhys Bennett inside out before firing against the outside of the post.
That prompted a change just six minutes into the second-half as Toney was brought on for Godden, and the change paid dividends seven minutes later as the striker won a free-kick around 25 yards out on the left which Dembele planted onto the head of Tafazolli to steer home.
Marcus Maddison was then thrown on in place of O’Hara as Posh switched to three at the back with Jason Naismith moving into the centre of defence, but after a spell of Posh pressure the visitors began to dominate again.
James Coppinger and Wilks both had efforts on goal, while Tafazolli and Daniel were forced to make last ditch interventions and Chapman had to make a low diving save from a Rowe header.
Wilks then had an overhead kicked saved from Chapman after one of several corners for the visitors who looked increasingly likely to score.
Remarkably Evans then managed to get himself sent off with two yellow cards in a few minutes. The second was after the referee blew for an offside when Posh had possession higher up the pitch.
Referee Bond also sent off Raynor a few seconds after sending off Evans which only seemed to animate an already lively crowd, who became even more vocal as the match ticket towards its conclusion.
Posh held firm against the Donny pressure and even threatened on the counter-attack, but neither side could find the winner, although at least Posh have the comfort of remaining top of the table.
Posh: Aaron Chapman, Jason Naismith, Rhys Bennett, Ryan Tafazolli, Colin Daniel, Joe Ward, Alex Woodyard, Mark O’Hara (sub Marcus Maddison, 65 mins), Siriki Dembele (sub Louis Reed, 72 mins), Matt Godden (sub Ivan Toney, 52 mins), Jason Cummings.
Unused substitutes: Mark Tyler, Callum Cooke, Josh Yorweth, George Cooper.
Doncaster: Marko Marosi, Niall Mason, Andy Butler, Tom Anderson, Danny Andrew, Benjamin Whiteman, Herbie Kane, Tommy Rowe, James Coppinger, John Marquis, Mallik Wilks (sub Alfie May, 84 mins).
Unused substitutes: Ian Lawlor, Alfie Beestin, Paul Taylor, Matty Blair, Issam Ben Khemis, Mitchell Lund.
Referee: Darren Bond 6
Posh - Tafazolli (58 mins)
Doncaster - Marquis (40 mins)
Posh - Daniel (foul)
Doncaster - Kane (foul), Wilks (foul), Whiteman (foul)
Red cards - Steve Evans (dissent), Paul Raynor (dissent).