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match previews

Back from Elland – Leeds United preview

Batten down the hatches… break out the scarves… lock up your pubs for indiscernible reasons. Yep, Leeds United are coming to town. The time has come round again; four weeks on from Rovers 1-0 triumph at Elland Road it’s time for the rematch as Leeds United come to the Keepmoat Stadium. It probably seems much more than a month for Leeds United in view of what has happened to them since. Denis Wise left his technical area to take up a backroom role in the hyperbole fuelled world of Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle. Ken Bates decided that if football fails then the High Court may not and so Leeds will now challenge the rest of the League in the courtroom as well as on the pitch.

Former player Gary McAllister returned to the club to overfill Wise’s tiny managerial shoes, but the club have hit something of a sticky patch on the field. After impressive early season formLeeds have failed to return to winning ways since their last match with Rovers, with defeats to Southend and Tranmere joined with three other draws to leave United seventh. But for the significant blip of a 4-0 home defeat to Swansea, Rovers have continued where they left off at Elland Road. Four more wins, no more goals conceded and the beginning of a gap between themselves and third place. Things are very rosy in John Ryan’s garden; and a full house for tomorrow’s match make it a significant bloom for the chairman.

After just over a year in existence and a few close calls the Keepmoat Stadium has finally recorded a sell-out for this significant local derby. However, where the big crowd may please the club it seems to have put the local constabulary in a state of panic. All pubs and bars in the town centre and the vicinity of the Stadium are to remain closed until 4pm with South Yorkshire Police taking every possible precaution to avoid trouble such as that seen against Millwall earlier in the season. However given the amount of Leeds fans in Doncaster it remains unlikely that the away support would ‘charge’ their family and colleagues across the netting.

In terms of team news Rovers will be without long term absentees James Hayter and Gordon Greer who remained sideline, while a trio of recent loanees; Graeme Lee, Martin Woods and Matty Noble will be on duty for other clubs. Significantly central midfielder Richie Wellens could also be added to that list of absentees; the official website reports that Wellens has a cyst on his ankle and so will face a late fitness test ahead of the game.

Leeds have a significant absentee of their own with striker Jermaine Beckford suspended for this match. Also missing is club captain Andy Hughes who remains out with a knee injury, however midfielder Neil Kilkenny could return to the side after recovering from an ankle problem.

It’s an early start for all tomorrow, with the saloons closing to acknowledge a high noon kick-off at the Keepmoat corral. As such fans are advised to get to the ground early particularly in view of the capacity crowd that is expected. A crunch game for both side’s promotion ambitions it should be quite a show-down. Ninety per cent of visitors to Viva Rovers are predicting a home win; hopefully they’ll be proved right come 2pm tomorrow.

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