JAMES Henry came off the bench to head in a precious goal which could well have secured Oxford United’s safety from relegation.

The midfielder, rested in midweek, produced a brilliant diving header seven minutes after coming on as a substitute.

It was the sort of clinical finish in the penalty area which United had been missing up to that point – and his tenth goal of the season was worth its weight in gold.

Rovers had been enjoying their best spell of the game before the goal and Simon Eastwood made big saves either side of it to preserve the all-important clean sheet.

There were plenty of nervous moments in a lengthy period of stoppage-time, but at the final whistle the 1,000 travelling fans were making all the noise.

Their side are not mathematically safe, but 53 points should nonetheless be enough to see them back at Rovers in the third tier next season.

All four players rested for the midweek trip to Wigan Athletic returned to the squad, but Henry was only named on the bench.

Wes Thomas and Jon Obika were back as a front two, while John Mousinho took Curtis Nelson’s place and his armband.

It also meant the defensive approach from midweek was ditched and the visitors got on the front foot early on.

They forced two early set piece chances around the Rovers box, but Alex Mowatt saw his delivery headed away and Cameron Brannagan smashed his into the wall.

It would go on to sum up the half for United, who had plenty of the ball around the Rovers box without finding the killer pass.

Despite the welcome sunshine, conditions were not straightforward. The ball bounced high on what was a hard pitch at the Keepmoat Stadium, while the pre-match sprinklers ensured passes on the floor often skidded out of play.

It was a day for keeping things simple, but both sides were guilty of over-intricate approach play.

United’s clearest chance before the break arrived on 12 minutes, when Ryan Ledson’s pass found Todd Kane in behind the back four.

His low cross for Obika was only half-cleared and fell for Thomas, who scuffed his shot wide, just out of Joe Rothwell’s reach.

Rovers responded with the best opportunity of the half. With Rob Dickie out of position, Alfie May got into the box, before letting United off the hook with a poor poked finish which Eastwood blocked for a corner.

Back came the visitors, who saw efforts blazed off target by Thomas and Mowatt.

Rovers goalkeeper Marko Marosi only had one save to make in the opening 45 minutes, a routine stop to keep out Rothwell’s left-footed effort from outside the box.

The Slovakian’s opposite number, Eastwood, was hardly overworked, either.

He was well-placed to save when Rovers top-scorer John Marquis found half a yard of space on the edge of the box, but otherwise only had to deal with crosses.

Obika had a downward header saved by Marosi at the start of the second half, but still United did not really look like scoring.

Instead, Rovers built up a head of steam approaching the hour mark.

The dangerous Marquis glanced a header wide from Niall Mason’s free-kick and the striker then found the net from Ben Whiteman’s cross, only to look up and see an offside flag.

Matty Blair should have put Doncaster in front on the hour when Rodney Kongolo’s low cross found him eight yards out, but instead the shot was too close to Eastwood, who parried.

It was one-way traffic, but out of nowhere United struck on the break.

Thomas spun on the halfway line and played in Ledson, who charged forward and crossed left-footed for Henry to throw himself at the ball with a diving header which beat Marosi and sent the traveling fans behind the goal berserk.

United’s task now was simple – do not concede in the remaining 27 minutes.

Nelson was brought on to help the task, which pushed Mousinho into midfield as United inched towards the finishing line.

It was designed to make the visitors more sound defensively, but within a minute they were caught open on the break.

Marquis was well-placed to equalise, only to fire a rising shot which Eastwood tipped over the crossbar.

There were plenty of other nervous moments in the closing stages, but Andy Butler’s shot over the bar in the six minutes of stoppage-time was Rovers’ last chance.

Doncaster Rov (4-4-2): Marosi, Alcock (Kiwomya 86), Butler, Baudry, Mason, McCullough, Blair, Kongolo (Houghton 70), Whiteman, Marquis, May (Williams 74).

Unused subs: Lawlor, Anderson, Boyle, Amos.

Booked: Baudry.

Oxford Utd (4-4-2): Eastwood, Kane, Dickie, Mousinho, Ruffels, Brannagan, Mowatt (Henry 56), Ledson, Rothwell (Nelson 76), Thomas, Obika (Hall 90).

Unused subs: Shearer, Martin, Ricardinho, Van Kessel.

Booked: Dickie, Brannagan.

Referee: Martin Coy (County Durham).

Attendance: 8,255 (1,018 visitors).