Never underestimate the commitment of Viva Rovers. Thanks to the wonder of technology and the disappointment of train travel I am writing this match preview sat on a Midlands Trains luggage rack en route to the City Ground. Whilst the whole world travels by this train to Birmingham for Christmas shopping Rovers descend on Nottingham in search of their own bargain; a long overdue away win.
April was the last time Rovers won away in the league. A 3-0 win at Plymouth which secured Doncaster’s Championship status providing the last truly joyous journey home. This season whilst Rovers have led at many grounds including The Hawthorns, Bramall Lane, St James Park they have regularly stumbled at the last like a footballing Devon Loch. Whilst the team certainly aren’t daunted by these big venues, they do seem to be expecting the inevitable collapse.
Nottingham Forest have become something of a key foe for Rovers in recent years. Mirroring fortunes and similar league positions coupled with the inevitable mining strike undercurrent have helped propel these fixtures into the realm of derbys. And like any derby worth their salt they’ve featured Boxing Day batterings. Last season it was Rovers turn, a 4-2 win which saw the end of Colin Calderwood and also avenged a 4-0 defeat of three years previous. The 2005-06 season was the last time Forest defeated Rovers; the two times Minster Carpet Cup winners fairing considerably better out of this rivalry of late than the twice European Champions.
Billy Davies’ extensive summer transfer dealings appear to have served Forest well thus far this campaign. They may not have had the clout they thought they possessed on chasing Matt Mills but they are enjoying a much more productive Championship season than a year ago. The Tricky Trees bolstered their squad again on the week with the addition of Nicky Shorey and come into this game on a run of nine games unbeaten, sitting in 9th place.
Rovers will of course be without the forever absent Steve Brooker who remains sidelined. Brooker’s appearance in a feature on the official club website last week the equivalent of a South American dictator going on state television to prove they’re still alive. Brian Stock also remains absent though defenders Byron Webster and Adam Lockwood are now fit again whilst Martin Woods returns after serving his one game suspension.
Forest loanee Nicky Shorey is expected to go straight into their team as a replacement for the suspended Chris Cohen. The BBC also expect Dexter Blackstock to return to the side, but what fo they know eh?
Predicted Rovers Line-up;
(4-3-2-1) Neil Sullivan; James Chambers, Jason Shackell, Sam Hird, Gareth Roberts; John Oster, Simon Gillett, Maryin Woods; Jamie Coppinger, Dean Shiels; Billy Sharp
subs: Ben Smith, James O’Connor, Adam Lockwood, Mark Wilson, Quinton Fortune, James Hayter, John Spicer
Travelling to the Game
As we’re a bit late with this just one bit of advice; don’t travel into Birmingham on Midland Trains on a Saturday morning. This luggage rack is ruining my back
Following the Game
Good news for all, as Viva Rovers is en route to the match that means the return of our live Twitter coverage for this game. If you’re on Twitter follow @vivarovers for regular 140 character updates of the action. If you’re not a tweeter then keep your eye on the Twitter Updates box on the right of this page.