FROM an April shower to the darling buds of May, only time will tell.

It remains to be seen whether this period of the season will be defining for Cherries for a third year in succession.

On the evidence of this fortuitous result, the omens would certainly seem to be with rookie Lee Bradbury’s promotion-chasers.

As they left the ground still catching their breath, the Dean Court faithful would have been reflecting on one of the most Jekyll-and-Hyde performances of recent years.

An abject opening 45 minutes was perfectly summed up by supporter Martin Talbot on social networking site Twitter: “We could have played for 45 hours and wouldn’t have scored.”

Other posters were more critical.

Seeking their first league double over Cherries for 36 years, relegation-haunted Rovers stunned and silenced Cherries supporters when they took the lead with their first attack.

Winger Wayne Brown exploited some ponderous defending and slipped the ball past Cherries goalkeeper Shwan Jalal with fewer than four minutes on the clock.

With so much at stake for Cherries, conceding an early goal after shipping a couple of late ones at Yeovil on Saturday would have been the last thing they needed.

Any pre-match butterflies in the home camp would have increased immeasurably after Brown’s effort had rolled over the line.

And with their Huish Park horror show still fresh in their minds, Cherries must have feared the worst after Brown’s cheaply-conceded strike had put them on the back foot so soon in this match.

With confidence already fragile and nerves heavily frayed, Cherries needed an immediate response. Boss Bradbury would have wanted them to stand up and be counted.

Instead, the Bank Holiday fare served up by Cherries was a damp squib, their below-par performance anything but indicative of play-off hopefuls.

Boasting three away wins in four under caretaker boss Stuart Campbell, Rovers had certainly been displaying their mettle on their travels.

And while merely protecting their lead may well have been their main objective, Gavin Williams went close to extending it when his 25-yard piledriver was clawed away by Jalal. Suggestions the Pirates would be happy to sit on their advantage and park the proverbial bus were firmly put to bed.

Understandably frustrated, some supporters began to vent their displeasure. A succession of stray passes was met with derision as the art of finding a team-mate continued to desert Cherries.

And while Rovers followers belted out choruses of their club anthem ‘Goodnight Irene’, home supporters must have been preparing for a sombre rendition of ‘Goodnight play-offs’.

A tame header from Danny Ings was Cherries’ only effort on target, while Byron Anthony’s effort saw the hosts’ goal continue to lead a charmed life.

Cherries were then gifted a numerical advantage when Rovers defender David McCracken saw fit to elbow defender Adam Smith as the players jostled for position at a corner.

To make life easy for referee David Phillips, the Brentford loan man decided to commit his reckless act right under the nose of the official, ensuring the red card would be instant.

Rather foolishly, Danny Hollands then took it upon himself to even up the numbers, the Cherries midfielder heading for an early bath on the stroke of half-time after collecting two bookings.

Cautioned earlier for a foul on Williams, Hollands needlessly chopped down Chris Lines while the midfielder was in full flight near the halfway line, referee Phillips again on the spot to administer justice.

Cherries finally managed to string two passes together – sadly only during the warm-up for the second half after boss Bradbury had sent them out early.

And the early signs after the interval were not good as a Liam Feeney shot threatened the corner flag rather than the Rovers goal, while some Cherries players engaged in very public disputes with one another.

A slanging match ensued between Jalal and Harry Arter after Danny Senda had squandered a glorious chance to put the visitors in front in the 65th minute, the defender lifting his shot high over the crossbar at the south end.

Rovers would live to regret Senda’s miss, with the final few minutes pure theatre. It was as if magic dust had been sprinkled on Cherries.

Firstly, substitute Mathieu Baudry threw Cherries a lifeline when he powered home a header from a Warren Cummings cross with just six minutes remaining, the Frenchman grabbing his first goal in English football.

And if Baudry’s exploits were not enough, Steve Fletcher, Cherries’ very own Roy Race, shinned in the winner from close range, following good work by Ings, in the 88th minute.

Fletcher’s celebration was reminiscent of his victory dance against Grimsby on the same day in 2009 when his goal ensured safety.

The final whistle ensured the latest chapter in this most remarkable of seasons was written.

It just remains to be seen whether there can now be a happy ending.

Cherries: (4-4-2) Jalal 6.5; Smith 6, Pearce 7, Cooper 6.5, Cummings 6; Feeney 6, Robinson 6 (Baudry, 65 8*), Hollands 6.5, McDermott 6.5 (Fletcher, 55 7); Lovell 5.5 (Arter, h-t 6), Ings 7.5.

Unused subs: Pugh, Dalla Valle, Purches, Thomas (g/k).

Booked: Hollands, McDermott, Feeney, Fletcher, Arter, Smith.

Sent off: Hollands.

Rovers: (4-4-2) Logan; Senda, Anthony, McCracken, Sawyer; Williams, Campbell (Kalala, 39), Lines, Brown; Kuffour, Hoskins (Lambe, 78).

Unused subs: Howe, Swallow, Clarke, Pell, Green (g/k).

Booked: Senda, Anthony.

Sent off: McCracken.

Referee: Dave Phillips (West Sussex).

Attendance: 7,869.