With Liverpool’s loss of form regularly deemed a ‘crisis’ by the media whilst the plight of clubs such as Chester City are comparatively ignored it can be hard to maintain a sense of perspective in relation to English football. But whether your glass is half full or the halfest emptiest glassiest glass in the world, its fair to say that Brian Laws brings Sheffield Wednesday to the Keepmoat Stadium tonight as a man under significant pressure. A large number of messagboards, websites and other sources are suggesting that a win for Rovers tonight will see Laws shown the door at Hillsborough. With that much suspense in the air I suspect that Laws’ own thoughts have today been drowned out by a steady crescendo of the theme music to Requiem for a Dream.
The reason for Brian Laws perilous position within his technical area is a run of poor form which has seen Sheffield Wednesday slump to 21st position in the Championship. Wednesday have drawn two and lost five of their last seven fixtures stirring unrest amongst the club’s followers as they approach tonight’s South Yorkshire derby. A defeat to TheLikesOfDoncaster Rovers (to be give us our full Championship name) could well be the final nail in Brian Laws’ Hillsborough coffin.
Rovers conversely come into tonight’s fixture with renewed optimism after an up and down run of performances in their last three games. Fantastic against Queens Park Rangers then woeful at Nottingham Forest, Rovers rediscovered their clinical edge in a 3-0 victory of Crystal Palace on Saturday to quash ludicrous suggestions that it was time for Sean O’Driscoll to go, as quickly as they appeared.
For the first time in a long time Rovers come into a league fixture against Sheffield Wednesday in a loftier position than their opponents. The 1-0 win on Valentines Day this year secured with a header from Paul Heffernan was Rovers first ever league victory over he Owls, and the smart money tonight is suggesting the second ever victory could well follow at the first time of asking. Rovers can do without complacency though as beating the teams around them has proved a particular stumbling block of the club’s recent years.
The Rovers Medical room is currently a barren tundra-like region with all significant life at the club out on the training ground. Although all unavailable through injury Sean McDaid, Steve Brooker, Brian Stock and Quinton Fortune are all at least now mobile. And so for once Sean O’Driscoll will not be forced to change his line-up and may stick with the side featuring makeshift centre-half James O’Connor which won convincingly at Selhurst Park.
According to the BBC Brian Laws will be without Tommy Miller who has a hamstring problem and Francis Jeffers suffering from a foot injury. Other than that the Wednesday manager has a full squad at his disposal and is expected to make changes after the recent poor run. The official Sheffield Wednesday website states that Laws will “delay naming his side until the eleventh hour”, but given that kick-off is at quarter to the eighth hour it would be surprising if this tactic panned out.
Predicted Rovers Line-up
(4-3-2-1) Neil Sullivan; James Chambers, James O’ Connor, Jason Shackell, Gareth Roberts; John Oster, Simon Gillett, Martin Woods; Jamie Coppinger, Dean Shiels; Billy Sharp
subs: Ben Smith, Byron Webster, Sam Hird, 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, Sheffield Wednesday fans will find not only directions and parking advice for those travelling by 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 the infamous Viva Rovers twitter feed is restricted to second-hand coverage of tonight’s game so we may not be the best bet for up to the minute information for this fixture. However you can still keep tabs on us either by following @vivarovers on twitter or checking the Twitter Update box at the right of this page. Alternatively you have a couple of other options at your disposal. BBC Radio Sheffield are covering the game live as you would hope, but unfortunately this doesn’t include their online output. For live audible internet coverage your best bet is probably Rovers Player (formerly Rovers World) which features the ever delightful Paul Mayfield.