Sunderland’s winless run extended to four as Fejiri Okenabirhie’s last-minute equaliser meant the spoils were shared.
Phil Parkinson’s men dominated the first half and made the breakthrough from Leadbitter’s effort. Doncaster came into the second half and had a few chances and grabbed a late goal to share the spoils.
Sunderland made the relatively short trip down to Yorkshire looking to bounce back from three straight defeats in all competitions.
Parkinson made a few changes with Connor McLaughlin and Tom Flanagan returning from international duty to go into the back three, and Chris Maguire came in for Will Grigg up top with Charlie Wyke and Lynden Gooch in a front three.
Through the opening ten minutes, it was a game of few chances with the two sides feeling each other out – Doncaster were keen to press high up the field and put the backline under pressure.
From a Josh Scowen free-kick, Sunderland created their first half-chance as the ball was swung into Luke O’Nien who came close with his header.
Sunderland had begun to up the tempo and McLaughlin pushed forward from defence and did well to beat his man and cross to Maguire, but his effort on the half volley was straight at goalkeeper Joe Lumley.
25 minutes in and the lads created the best opening so far as McLaughlin played a lovely ball to the back stick which looked set for Denver Hume to strike, but Scowen got in the way and completely put off the wing-back.
Just before the half-hour, Sunderland had a stonewall penalty denied as Maguire’s crossed it into Gooch who got to the ball first and was then clattered by Joe Wright – it was a truly baffling decision.
Sunderland were in control of proceedings and had pushed up the field ten yards looking to get the opening goal of the game.
Gooch was looking a real threat on the left-hand side and whipped in a lovely ball to Flanagan who couldn’t keep his header down – the Northern Irishman had remained up from the corner and wasn’t the man you’d want in that scenario.
The lads were increasing the pressure as the half went on, Leadbitter played a lovely diagonal ball over the top, and on the angle, Wyke forced a save from Lumley. Sunderland’s pressure finally told as Leadbitter unleashed a thunderbolt from 30 yards out leaving Lumley with absolutely no chance. A thoroughly deserved opener and a magnificent strike from Sunderland’s club captain. The first half ended, and Parkinson must have been thrilled with how his side had played, it was a much-improved display from the lads who should have been two or three up.
The hosts had come out from the break looking to press and could have easily been level as the ball dropped to Jason Lokilo, but his volley whistled past Remi Matthew’s left-hand post.
Doncaster were trying to up the tempo, and Matt Smith’s low effort was driven just wide of Matthews in the Sunderland goal.
Sunderland were working the ball around nicely but were struggling to find that final ball to get a second.
Doncaster looked lively and had another half-chance as Ben Whiteman found Fejiri Okenabirhie who couldn’t get the contact he was looking for and from 12 yards should have done a lot better.
The lads had begun to take control of the half; Gooch was proving to be a menace for the Donny backline – his pace and trickery was causing them all sorts of problems.
With ten minutes left Sunderland needed to be careful and ensure that the lead did not slip – Elliot Embleton replaced Maguire late on in hope of adding another dimension.
Doncaster made it 1-1 with the last kick of the game as Okenabirhie managed to bundle in a cross to get a point for the hosts – it was desperately poor defending from Sunderland who couldn’t hold on to what would have been a huge three points.
Full Time: Doncaster 1-1 Sunderland
ALS Man of the Match: Grant Leadbitter
Sunderland: Matthews; McLaughlin, Wright ©, Flanagan; O’Nien, Scowen, Leadbitter, Hume; Maguire (Embleton 82’), Wyke, Gooch (Power 91’)
Subs not used: Burge, Diamond, Grigg, Sanderson and Graham