Doncaster get set for their second all Rovers clash in four days as they head South West to face Bristol Rovers at the Memorial Ground. This match should have been done and dusted long ago; however an uncharacteristic cup run by the Pirates has taken priority over the Bristol club’s league programme meaning Doncaster have had to wait for their chance to face their fellow Rovers. Such has been Bristol Rovers’ cup form this season that when tonight’s encounter is done their next action will be an FA Cup Quarter Final against West Brom.
Doncaster have fond recent memories of clashes against Bristol Rovers, most notably of course in last season’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Final at the Millennium Stadium. However the Memorial Ground holds its own fond memories; it was here on Easter Saturday four years ago that Doncaster made a massive step towards successive promotions as goals from Ricky Ravenhill and Adebayo Akinfenwa helped them to a 2-1 win. With that season also bringing Doncaster a 5-1 home win over the Pirates courtesy of a Michael McIndoe hat-trick you have to go a long way back for the South West club’s last victory over Doncaster.
Approaching this game Doncaster of course recovered from defeat at fellow promotion contenders Carlisle with an impressive 1-0 victory at Tranmere Rovers. Incentive to build on that comes with the knowledge that victory tonight will return Doncaster to second place in League One, a position currently filled by Carlilse after their surprise 1-0 win at Nottingham Forest last night. Although Bristol currently sit 13th in the table their recent form belies their position. Coupled with their FA Cup run has been an equally impressive league showing with just one defeat since December. However the mental edge will be with Doncaster as that one defeat was at their hands; two penalties the difference in a 2-0 win at the Keepmoat last month.
Doncaster remain without a number of first team players as James Hayter and James O’Connor remain out with hernia problems, and Gordon Greer still recovering from hip surgery and Lewis Guy getting over glandular fever. Added to that list are the currently on loan quartet of Graeme Lee, Matty Noble, Martin Woods and Anthony Griffith and most significantly Jason Price who picked up an injury in Saturday’s win at Tranmere.
Bristol Rovers’ manager Paul Trollope has his own team selection problems ahead of this game although in slightly different circumstances. A bout of influenza could mean Chris Lines, David Pipe and Richard Walker are all unavailable, joining Chris Carruthers who is sidelined with an ankle injury. Trollope will also have to weigh up the importance of this league match with Saturday’s FA Cup Quarter Final before he names his starting eleven.