AN injury time strike from Kevin Nolan ended Newcastle's winless run but Andy Carroll's point blank miss and a bizarre sending-off were the main talking points.
Carroll's equaliser made amends for his howler that will give him and the St James' Park faithful nightmares this weekend.
Marlon Harewood teed up a gilt-edged chance that Carroll blasted wide from eight yards out. If that had the home fans scratching their heads then Zurab Khizanishvili's sending-off was just as puzzling. After Rovers striker Billy Sharp squared up to Tamas Kadar, referee Darren Deadman consulted his linesman before showing Khizanishvili a red card when he had seemed to play the role of peacemaker in the fracas.
Doncaster were by far the brighter team in the first half and deservedly took an early lead. Dean Shiels ignored offside claims from the Magpies back four to calmly slot home Sharp's reverse pass.
Newcastle struggled to make an impression with Harewood in particular lacking effort and quality. The home fans gave their verdict, roundly booing the on-loan striker when he was replaced by Nile Ranger after 60 minutes.
The visitors were correctly awarded a penalty on 74 minutes after Ryan Taylor's handball in the penalty box was spotted by the referee. But former Sunderland midfielder Martin Woods sent his spot kick a good 20 feet wide of Steve Harper's right-hand upright.
As the game moved into injury time, Nolan grabbed all three points for Chris Hughton's ten-men when his curling effort evaded Neil Sullivan.
NEWCASTLE (4-4-2): Harper, Enrique, Khizanishvili, R Taylor, Kadar, Nolan, Guthrie, Gutierrez (Tozer 87), Butt, Harewood (Ranger 60), Carroll. Substitutes (not used) Krul(gk), Geremi, Ngo Baheng, Donaldson, Lovenkrands.
DONCASTER (4-4-2): Sullivan, O'Connor, Chambers, Shackell, Hird, Woods, Fortune, Coppinger (Hayter 77), Gillett (Oster 66), 5 Sharp (Guy 85), Shiels. Substitutes (not used): Woods (gk), Spicer, Dumbuya, Heffernan.
Referee: Darren Deadman
Goals: Shiels 18, Carroll 67, Nolan 90+2