I’ve got a stat for you, it’s a good one, and its relevant, and it took me a whole fifteen minutes to research it and everything. Are you ready for this? OK; since Rovers moved to the Keepmoat Stadium they have not won a fixture against the league leaders. The last time they beat a team who were top of the table in a league game was the last ever match at Belle Vue, a 1-0 win over Nottingham Forest thanks to Theo Streete’s whirling rocket of a shot struck from somewhere near the back of the Pop Stand. I’m wasted in my day job.
Anyway, Rovers have a chance to amend this unwanted (though interesting) statistic this weekend as they host Cardiff City at the Keepmoat Stadium. Having missed out on last season’s play-off places through a bizarre end of season implosion the Bluebirds have begun this season back on the right track. Three wins and a draw from the opening four fixtures means Cardiff head the Championship thanks also to a prolific total of eleven league goals, which considerably dwarfs Rovers paltry two. Indeed City striker Michael Chopra has netted more than three times Rovers’ goals total on his own.
So Cardiff City are, in short, on fire and as such its hard to predict anything other than a win for the visitors. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a defeatist by any means, and I came out of Wednesday’s Carling Cup greatly enthused by the quality and fluidity of Rovers’ play. But enjoying Rovers football is presumably like spinning your partner a white lie to enable yourself to hang out with your mates. You enjoy it alright, but at the back of your mind there is always that brief nagging concern that it is all going to blow up in your face. At Rovers that nagging concern is the lack of a cutting edge in front of goal.
What Rovers will have learnt from the Tottenham in midweek, presuming it wasn’t known already, is that when you are given chances on goal you have to take them. Rovers are arguably unlucky to have been denied this season by the woodwork and some brilliant goalkeeping from Carlo Cudicini and Kieran Westwood and there is an argument for saying that inevitably someone will feel the backlash. If it is to be Cardiff then it could make for a high scoring game at the Keepmoat Stadium as if City approach this game like they have their fixtures thus far they will not be ones to sit back and let Rovers dictate the game.
Steve Brooker and Sean McDaid are unavailable for this game as they’re busy looking at swatches for new wallpaper for their cosy medical room. Offering advice to the pair will be Stuart Elliott (remember him?) who reportedly has an ankle injury according to the BBC. We also assume that Jos Van Nieuwstadt and James O’Connor are still on the walking wounded list, although expect Jamie Coppinger to make a return after he sat out the Carling Cup tie with a groin injury. Jason Shackell and Neil Sullivan will probably also return after being rested in midweek.
Cardiff City have a couple of key injury concerns of their own, with forward Ross McCormack out with a hamstring injury and full-back Kevin McNaughton also absent through an ankle problem. The Bluebirds do come into the weekend with two significant boosts though, firstly the signing of highly rated midfielder Solomon Taiwo from Dagenham & Redbridge, and perhaps more importantly the news that Welsh international Joe Ledley has begun talks for a new contract at Cardiff City. Sadly for Rovers fans Michael Chopra is fit and well.
Predicted Rovers line-up
(4-3-2-1): Neil Sullivan; James Chambers, Byron Webster, Jason Shackell Gareth Roberts; John Oster, Brian Stock, Martin Woods; John Spicer, Jamie Coppinger,; James Hayte
subs: Ben Smith, Sam Hird, Adam Lockwood, Mark Wilson, Quinton Fortune, Dean Shiels, Paul Heffernan, Lewis Guy
Cardiff City fans attending the game can find a wealth of information on Rovers’ ground, including where to park, how to get there on foot and by car, and where to grab a pre-match drink in the Keepmoat Stadium section of this website.
After successfully covering the Spurs game to an appreciative audience Viva Rovers will be delivering regular updates of this match too through our twitter feed. Either follow @vivarovers on twitter or keep an eye on the ‘Twitter Updates’ box on this website, and you will get to enjoy our account of the game in bursts of 140 characters, and pictures too. If you’re in South Yorkshire or South Wales you should be able to follow the game via BBC Local Radio as well.
Also in Action
If you’re feeling spoilt by the free-flowing football of Sean O’Driscoll then there’s a chance for you to watch some football of a more mediocre standard on the morning of the game. Rovers supporters’ team the Donny R’sonists are in action against Sheffield United fans team the InterBlades at Balby Carr Football Centre. The match is scheduled for a 10:15am kick-off on the artificial pitch and supporters/amused bystanders are appreciated.