I’ve tried to downplay this but the truth is this is the most I’ve been excited about a league game for some time. Yep, we’re off to Elland Road. You can tell Rovers match with Leeds is quite a big deal… people are posting on our messageboard. We all know the story by now, but sod it, let’s go over it again. Lets start back, as most media will, in May 2001, three days after Leeds lost a Champions League semi-final to Valencia Rovers lost their last match of the season at home to Telford United. Worlds apart back then, but now all set to meet on the field in what half a decade ago was the unlikeliest of Yorkshire league derbies.
History aside, this is a big game for two more topical reasons; firstly its a local derby and secondly Rovers and United sit just two points and two places apart in the League One promotion race. But for the fifteen point penalty with which they began the season Leeds would be clear at the top of division, however the reality leaves them scrapping away with Rovers et al to make it into the top two.
Of late Rovers have been the form side of the two with four wins and a draw from their last five league games including a 1-0 win over promotion rivals Carlisle last Saturday. Leeds on the other hand have picked up just two wins in that period with defeats to Swansea and Oldham either side of the New Year stuttering their charge up the table.
In terms of the likely line-ups for tomorrow Rovers’ Jason Price and Paul Green are expected to overcome slight injuries to be available, whilst Brian Stock has also recovered from the injury he suffered against Carlisle. The big dilemma for Sean O’Driscoll will be whether to include loan signing Matt Mills in his starting line-up or keep faith with the back four that has conceded just two goals in the last five matches.
With all players fit, O’Driscoll can be expected to take the game to Leeds and start with the same line-up that began the home match against Carlisle; although Jason Price may drop deeper for Rovers to play a 4-3-2-1 as oppose to a 4-3-1-2. There is also an argument for the inclusion of Mark Wilson at the expense of Stock or Green for a more defensive side, but I like most fans, will be hoping the manager sticks with the attacking mentality that has brought Rovers up the table.
Leeds on the other hand have a close to full squad to choose from aided by Jermaine Beckford’s decision to stay with the Elland Road club despite offers from Premiership Derby. However, they will be without defender Rui Marques who is on international duty with Angola, and Ian Westlake could be a doubt as he faces a late fitness test on his injured ankle.
It’s been fifty years since these two clubs met. In a competitive game and understandably this is one of the most eagerly anticipated matches of the season for Doncaster Rovers fans and tickets for the away end at Elland Road have long been sold out with a reported 4,000 fans making the trip to West Yorkshire. Here’s hoping they won’t be left disappointed.