In-form Billy Sharp scored the only goal of the game as City were put to the sword by a slick looking Doncaster side.
With Evander Sno banned after picking up his fifth caution of the season at Leicester on Tuesday, Johnson opted to bring in Marvin Elliott as a straight swap in midfield in order to keep the shape that brought the 3-1 win in midweek.
Surprisingly, there was no place for inspirational skipper Louis Carey as he had to be content with a place on the bench.
Elliott was first to try his luck, firing his shot high over the bar when well placed just inside the Donny box.
James Coppinger responded for the hosts by waltzing past the tackles of McAllister and Nyatanga en route to the City goal on 9 minutes only to blaze his cross into the stand with Billy Sharp well positioned.
Cole Skuse’s poor back-header allowed Billy Sharp to skip in on goal before clinically finding the bottom corner from 18 yards, giving Dean Gerken no chance.
The 11th minute strike was his seventh goal of an extremely productive loan spell from neighbours Sheffield United.
Our chances were few and far between. It was another 16 minutes before our first shot on target arrived when Nicky Maynard could only shoot straight at Neil Sullivan.
Maynard had a strong run and shot which worked over Sullivan before Hartley stole a march on Marc Wilson in midfield only to fire just over from distance.
Coppinger once again proved a threat by shooting straight at Gerkin following a flowing move on 40 minutes.
Donny were enjoying plenty of possession in the first half as City were forced to chase shadows, with the home side stroking it around with consumate ease.
So, with Ivan Sproule pulling up clutching his left hamstring just before the break, it came as no surprise that Johnson chose to make changes at half-time.
Gavin Williams replaced Sproule and Alvaro Saborio came on for the ineffective Elliott as City went to a 4-4-2. Williams moved to left midfield, Haynes dropped back to the right and Saborio partnered Maynard up top.
Probably fresh from a half-time bollocking, City came out with more positive intent early in the second half.
Paul Hartley failed to hit the target from a free-kick whilst Saborio’s ferocious shot was forced around the post for a corner.
Maynard followed that up by seeing his goalbound shot bravely blocked by James O’Connor and Haynes saw the linesman rule out his effort for offside five minutes after the restart.
Another of the home side’s loanees – Simon Gillett – lacked composure at the other end when blazing over with the goal gaping.
Sharp then raced onto a long ball, beating Nyatanga in the process, before hopelessly shanking his effort across goal when clean through.
City were enjoying more possession but no end product as they pressed for the equaliser with Donny seeking to hit us on the counter.
Gavin Williams came closer still on 83 when his shot went wide off the upright from 20-yards.
By this point, O’Driscoll was taking any sting out of the game by making his three subs in the last ten minutes and so it worked as not even the 4 minutes of stoppage time could take away the points from Donny.
DONNY 4-4-1-1: Sullivan, O’Connnor, Chambers, Shackell, Roberts, Wilson, Oster (Spicer 89), Coppinger, Gillet, Sheils (Hird 82), Sharp (Hayter 86).
CITY 4-3-3: Gerkin, Orr, Fontaine, Nyatanga (Johnson 76), McAllister, Elliott (Saborio 46), Skuse, Hartley, Sproule (Williams 46), Maynard, Haynes.
REFEREE: Jarnail Singh (London)
Dean Gerken 5
No chance with the goal and had little else to.
Bradley Orr 6
Dealt with things down his side well and kept Gillett quiet pretty much all game. They got no change out of him today.
Jamie McAllister 5
Struggled to contain Coppinger down his side and didn’t get forward as much as he can do. Maybe three games in seven days took its toll today.
Liam Fontaine 6
Did ok but not his best performance.
Lewin Nyatanga 5
Struggling for form at the moment and it’s showing. Sharp’s pace and movement caused him problems on more than one occasion today.
Marvin Elliott 4
Asked to do the same job as Sno did in midweek and play in the hole behind the strikers but looked like a lost sheep at times and was withdrawn at the break.
Cole Skuse 5
Not his best day at the office. His only lapse in concentration this season led to the only goal of the game, in what proved to be the winner.
Paul Hartley 6
Tried to drive us on and was a shining light in another poor first-half performance. Looked jaded as the game wore on though.
Ivan Sproule 5
Poor bloke popped his hamstring just before the break and had to be replaced at the break. We now have NO wingers at the club whatsoever!
Nicky Maynard 6
Worked hard up top but had precious little service. His best and only real efforts of note came off his own back.
Danny Haynes 7
Ran himself into the ground to take the MOTM today but increasingly wasteful with his end product. Really needs to work on his decision making and execution when in good positions.
Alvaro Saborio 6
Caused them a few problems when brought on at the break. Put himself about and should be disappointed not to have buried a second half header.
Gavin Williams 6
Did well and hopefully will get a chance from the start in the coming weeks. Will be unlucky with his effort that clipped the post late on.
Changed to a 3-5-2 just to accomdate him and produced one through-ball for Haynes but not much else.
GARY JOHNSON – 6/10
Marginally better from Johnson today. The pro’s were that he didn’t fart-arse around with the winning line-up from midweek, asides from an enforced change, and he made a double sub early to affect the game positively. In short, he picked the best side we had at our disposal.
BUT… I don’t understand why Marv played ahead of Clarkson or Williams from the start as his inclusion gave us three defensive central midfielders. Also, the first half was more dreary stuff even though we were up against a better side in good form.
SEAN O’DRISCOLL – 8/10
Very impressed by the ex-Bournemouth gaffer. His side retained the ball superbly well in the first period and utilised Billy Sharp to excellent effect. They were organised and hard to break down. I wish we could play like this.
Better Side Won
We all know, Doncaster are a slick passing side, much like we were in our first season at this level, and it proved no different today.
City were passed off the park in another dire first-half performance but put on more pressure after the break. Sadly for us though, there was plenty huff but no puff once again this season as we didn’t take our chances when they came.
We must hit back from this defeat with a win over Reading next weekend now.
O’Driscoll Potential Successor?
The way he’s got his Donny side playing is very pleasing to watch. It was the same with his Bournemouth team too.
He’s a quiet and unassuming manager but I, for one, wouldn’t be too disappointed if we went for him if Johnson’s put out to pasture over the next season or two.