The Tower, rock, illuminations, trams, donkeys on the beach. There thats all that nonsense out the way nice and early, well until the match report at least, now to concentrate on the football, and maybe a few Halloween puns as well. On that subject, the arrival of Blackpool at the Keepmoat Stadium could cause a slight sense of foreboding amongst Rovers fans. Not because they are a particularly scary bunch, but simply because the last two fixture between the two sides in Doncaster have been so incredibly awful. After two successive 0-0 draws in this fixture, its not hard to see where the smart money will be placed for this one.
In desperate search for a good omen to take into this match I tried to remember the last time I watched Rovers play on Halloween. Its not good news; a terrible 1-0 FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round defeat at Southport in 2000. Mike Marsh scored, it snowed, and the snack bar ran out of food before half-time. Incredibly I remember more of that match than I do the last two meetings with Blackpool. But things are different now aren’t they? The door has been shut on Simon ‘Larry’ Grayson and instead they’ve got the self-nicknamed Ollie in charge; sports comedy star and all-round ‘character’ Ian Holloway. Anything could happen. He’s so crazy. And funny. Whats he going to say next? Hang on? Oh, wait… oh… he’s just yelling at the fourth official… oh well, what a character.
Credit where its due though I may not care much for Ian Holloway’s style or media-built stature but he’s managed to push Blackpool up the Championship table impressively so far this season. A couple of shrewd signings for this level and canny line-up changes have helped push Blackpool into the pack at the table’s top-end. At home they are unbeaten dispatching Sheffield United impressively in their last league game and knocking Wigan and Newcastle out of the League Cup, but the Tangerines’ away form offers Rovers a confidence boost. Just a single league win on the road, a 1-0 victory over Nottingham Forest, offers light.
Blackpool will come to the Keepmoat Stadium without two of their key midfield players with both Charlie Adams and Ishmel Demontagnac suspended, but there is still much strength in the visiting ranks. Al Bangura and Hameur Bouazza have impressed at this level and higher for Watford, whilst former Premier League striker Jason Euell is starting to enjoy something of a revival under Holloway. They key man though could be he who we at Viva Rovers have long determined to be one of the most underrated players in the division; David Vaughan. A fantastically talented footballer, three years ago I watched him come on as a substitute to trouble Brazil in an international friendly and I have been impressed by him every time I have seen him since. There, that should ensure he has an awful match tomorrow.
As for Rovers, well it really is hard to say what will happen. I know thats unhelpfully vague for a match preview, but it is at least truthful. Against Barnsley Rovers were impressive, they played some of their best football yet this season and lost 1-0. Three days later they were much less convincing against Peterborough and won 3-1. And then last weekend they threatened to snatch unlikely victory at Newcastle until being undone late in the game.
In recent years these two sides have cancelled each other out, but Rovers, in their second season at this level have begun to take the game to their opponents more. Blackpool too are a little more gung-ho this campaign. And so perhaps, finally, we can put an end to this stalemate-athon and see some goals. Surely, we can expect that much of a treat this Halloween at least.
It’s all getting a bit unsettling in the Rovers medical room as forever injured Steve Brooker continues to pine for his long lost companion Sean McDaid who left the treatment table for the training pitch a fortnight ago in an unexpected bout of fitness. Now Brooker has resorted to making new long-term injured duo Bran Stock and Adam Lockwood dress up in McDaid’s training gear and adopt the persona of the cheerful full-back.
Byron Webster appears to have escaped these shenanigans but he does also remain injured with a hyper-extended elbow, even though you would think that would fit nicely with the rest of his hyper-extended physique. The rest of the squad have managed to evade the potential swine flu outbreak within the club’s youth team and all are fighting fit and available, including Gareth Roberts who is expected to return to the squad after missing the last couple of matches.
Blackpool are without suspended midfield pair Charlie Adams and Ishmel Demontagnac, whilst the BBC also report that a knee problem makes Welsh international full back Neil Eardley a doubt. Fellow Welshman Daniel Nardiello is reported to be available though after returning to training this week. The lack of Adams and Demontagnac could mean a palce in midfield for former Premier League striker Jason Euell.
Predicted Rovers Line-up
(4-3-2-1) Neil Sullivan; James O’ Connor, Sam Hird, Jason Shackell, James Chambers; John Oster, Simon Gillett, Martin Woods; Jamie Coppinger, Dean Shiels; Billy Sharp
subs: Gary Woods, Gareth Roberts, Quinton Fortune, James pre=”James “>Hayter, Lewis Guy, 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, Blackpool 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.
Forget Rovers Player with its live coverage featuring the always excellent Paul Mayfield. Forget the BBC’s live text or score interactive service. Forget goal updates on BBC Radio Sheffield or match commentary on BBC Radio Lancashire. There is only one way to follow this match, and thats through the return of Viva Rovers’ just about live twitter coverage. All the action from the game, all Geoff’s latest whinges brought straight to your phone or your computer in succinct and personal 140 character bursts. And we’ll probably even throw in a few copyright infringing pictures for good measure too. If you’re a twitter user then make sure you are following @vivarovers, if you are not then you can still enjoy our ‘tweets’ by keeping an eye on the ‘twitter updates’ box on the right hand side of this website.
Issue 48 of the Doncaster Rovers print fanzine Popular STAND is on sale before the match. The fanzine produced by the fans for the fans is now in its eleventh year, and has remained at the same price for the majority of those years. It costs just £1 and will be ons ale at various locations outside the ground in the hour and a half before kick-off. I shall be your friendly vendor beneath the statue on the South East corner of the ground so why not come and say hello, although be advised I won’t offer polite conversation unless you buy a copy.