So how did you vent the frustration of Saturday’s loss? Did you go home and kick the proverbial cat? Did you go home and kick the real cat? Or did you log on to a messageboard and make nonsensical claims that Sean O’Driscoll’s time was up? Incredibly, despite the improvements this club has made under the current manager some folk actually opted for option three, as if being managerless with just one league win was somehow a better option that having just one win and a manager who got us out of a similar mess last season?
Whatever your view, the basic fact that Rovers have recorded just a single win in twelve league games is concerning. You can interpret the bare fact of that any way you like but its unlikely to have anyone jumping for joy. Of course the key aspects worth considering are that Sean O’Driscoll has been dealt two cruel blows. Firstly a swathe of injuries to key players, and secondly a bout of in-discipline from two of his three most experienced players when the now elusive win number two was not only in the bag, but halfway out the store. Those two players, John Oster and Quinton Fortune, return to the squad tonight and could well give Rovers fortunes a significant boost.
The game against Barnsley was a ‘want to win’ fixture, tonights home game against a Peterborough side currently in the relegation zone is as ‘must win’ as you can get in mid-October. There is still a long way to go, but the downward momentum needs to be halted to not only edge Rovers away from immediate trouble, but lessen the pressure on the team and its managements. If the winless run continues then its inevitable that the stream of idiots demanding Sean O’Driscoll walks will also increase. Much of Rovers current support is reactionary like that, and a win is important to halt the growth of the panto crowd.
There were signs against Barnsley that the team is improving, that momentum is being built, that the squad is adjusting to life without it’s central axis. With Brian Stock out ’til Christmas at least the whole squad has had to readjust its game and its understandably taken time. All Saturday’s performance really lacked was conviction in the final third, should Rovers add that to their game then Peterborough should be there for the taking.
Posh are a side who offer a great deal of similarities to the Rovers side of last season, a quick rise up the divisions and suddenly much of their squad is competing at a much higher level than their careers have previously taken them. Darren Ferguson’s side are adapting slowly and have proved a difficult obstacle for some of the division’s more established sides; West Bromwich only triumphed by the odd goal in five, whilst Newcastle came a cropper at London Road in the Carling Cup.
Though its is undoubtedly busy the Rovers medical room is a lonely place too. Steve Brooker has been cast adrift by his long term partner in crime, his wing man, his other half, yes Sean McDaid is fit again and back in training. In his absence Brooker cuts a desolate figure, sitting in a comfortable chair gazing longingly out the medical room window as the Yorkshire rain streaks down the outside and Celine Dion’s ‘All By Myself’ plays on Baz Windle’s radio.
Also unavailable through injury are central midfielders Brian Stock and Mark Wilson, plus central defenders Adam Lockwood and Byron Webster. However Rovers do welcome back two players as the experienced duo of Quinton Fortune and John Oster return to the squad after serving out their respective three match suspensions incurred for red cards at Scunthorpe.
Peterborough’s injury list is much shorter with only midfielder Paul Coutts, out with a foot injury, unavailable to manager Darren Ferguson. There are however doubts regarding a couple of other players, namely full-back Tom Williams and Charlie Lee who has a slight ankle injury. Ferguson does have Doncaster born Danny Rose available to him though, with the Tottenham player currently on loan at London Road.
Predicted Rovers Line-up
(4-3-2-1) Neil Sullivan; James Chambers, Sam Hird, Jason Shackell, Gareth Roberts; John Oster, Simon Gillett, Martin Woods; Jamie Coppinger, James Hayter; Billy Sharp
subs: Gary Woods, James O’Connor, Quinton Fortune, Dean Shiels, Waide Fairhurst, John Spicer, Paul Heffernan
Travelling to the Game
Though you’ll find little of help on the official Rovers website away fans can get a wealth of information on Doncaster’s ground from us by clicking on the ‘Keepmoat Stadium’ tab at the top of the page. On there, Peterborough fans will find not only directions and parking advice for those travelling car but also directions (both on foot and via public transport) from Doncaster station. Suggested matchday pubs and advice on where to collect tickets can also be found here.
Sadly our live twitter coverage of tonight’s game will be done on a second hand basis so those not attending tonight may need to find alternate means of keeping up with the action. Radio wise there should be regular updates on BBC local radio and goal flashes on BBC Radio Five Live. Text commentary will be available via the BBC website as well, but for live commentary the only place you’ll get it is by subscribing to the Rovers Player service.