Barnet fought back to get on level terms after being two down at half-time only to be denied a point with Doncaster Rovers’ winning goal coming in time added on as the home side secured a 3-2 victory.

The visitors’ spirited display in the second period looked to have done enough but Andy Williams showed a poacher’s instinct in the second minute of added time to convert a cross at the near post; a victory that took Rovers into second place in the table.

Elliott Johnson’s injury sustained in the midweek defeat against Norwich City meant he was sidelined, forcing Bira Dembele to play in the left-back berth, with Sam Muggleton getting his first league start of the season on the left side of midfield.

Harry Taylor and Shaun Batt also dropped out through injury and were replaced by Bondz N’Gala and Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro.

The home side started the brighter, enjoying the bulk of the possession with the Bees finding it difficult to mount attacks of their own.

Barnet were holding Rovers at bay, but the breakthrough came in the 15th minute. A Bees clearance lacked distance and James Coppinger’s well-executed volley from 20 yards had keeper Josh Vickers well beaten.

Muggleton’s long throws from either side of the pitch were repeatedly causing the Doncaster rearguard concern and were often Barnet’s best form of attack.

Midway through the first-half a Muggleton launcher was flicked on by N’Gala for Jamal Campbell-Ryce to then deliver into the middle where Akpa Akpro’s acrobatic effort was a fraction off target.

Doncaster’s second came in the 32nd minute. Neat inter-play on the edge of the Barnet penalty area enabled Matty Blair to get free and he skilfully placed the ball into the far corner.

Rovers seemed content with the lead they had established and did not trouble Barnet any further in the first half, but their grip on the match was a firm one.

Barnet were the first side to create an opportunity in the second period. N’Gala got his head to a corner only for Marko Marosi to keep the ball out at the second attempt.

Skipper Michael Nelson was busy at both ends of the pitch. Although fully employed when Doncaster pressed forward, he was a presence at set plays for the Bees.

A Nelson header hit the crossbar in the 61st minute as the Bees were putting the home defence under pressure, who were noticeably uncomfortable when asked to deal with Muggleton’s long throw.

Two minutes later the Bees narrowed the deficit when Dembele rose the highest to glance the ball into the net, leaving Marosi stranded.

Barnet now had the wind in their sails. Substitute Justin Amaluzor nearly levelled with 19 minutes remaining after he had carved out an opportunity for himself, forcing keeper Marosi into a quality low save.

With the Bees almost encamped in the visitors half at the Keepmoat Stadium, they drew level with just four minutes of normal time remaining.

John Akinde powered into the penalty area down the left before centering for substitute Luke Gambin who, despite being unbalanced, steered the ball into the net from close range.

Gambin should have been at Wembley for the World Cup qualifier against England but a red card in Malta’s previous international and the subsequent suspension meant that the winger was available for the Bees.

A draw now looked the likely outcome but five minutes of time added on would need to be negotiated first.

Doncaster now showed why they are the top scorers in the division when with two minutes of injury time having been played, Blair careered down the right and delivered a teasing centre which Williams poked home at the near post.

The defeat was cruel considering the nature of the comeback, but the Bees will rue the first half when Doncaster had them on the back foot.

Barnet need to regain their defensive resilience. This would provide the platform to enable them to take the game to their opponents in a measured manner, rather than in a desperate attempt to find a way back into a game.

Barnet: Vickers, Dembele, N’Gala, Nelson, Watson, Akinde, Campbell-Ryce (Gambin, 74), Togwell (Nicholls, 78), Muggleton, Akpa Akpro (Amaluzor, 57), Vilhete. Subs not used: Stephens, Sesay, J Taylor, Payne.