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match previews

Fox Hunting – Leicester City preview

Do you remember the last time Rovers played Leicester City? Do you really? If you do I’ll be impressed as chances are you probably not even sure why you wandered onto this website in the first place. You’ll know you came on here for a purpose, but you’ll not be able to remember what it was now your here. December 1956. Thats the last time these two sides met, probably in snow, and most certainly in black and white.  Leicester won that match 2-0 at Belle Vue fifty-three years ago, so throw down your Just for Men Gift Box and new slippers, it’s finally time for revenge.

So after attempting to spark a rally-cry amongst our more senior supporters I am going to ignore the idea of seemless segwaying by going onto say I like Leicester City. I genuinely do. The reasons for this are numerous; Filbert Street with that odd stand that looked like a pre-fab bungalow on stilts behind the left hand goal, the mid 1990s Fantasy League points brought to me in their droves by goalscoring centre-half Matt Elliott, and a good mate who is a big Leicester fan. So generally I wish them well, just not this week, Christmas or no Christmas.

There are numerous reasons why two fixtures inside two days are a nightmare. Getting tickets, matchday programmes which a re forced to guess what happened two days previously, and for folk like me, writing previews the moment you finish a match report. The plus points though at this time of year certainly outweigh those negatives. Not only does it offer an excuse to get away from silent family gatherings and forced board game bonhomie, but it also affords a chance to right disappointment very quickly. Rovers were far from at their best at the Ricoh Stadium on Saturday, but a win at the Keepmoat in this game and all that will be cheerfully forgotten and swept under the carpet, like your gran’s mild racism at the Christmas dinner table.

Rovers defeat at Coventry City on Boxing Day brought a disappointing end to a great run of December form which had seen Rovers unbeaten, and unbreached in four games. Rovers had risen to 11th in the Championship thanks notably to Billy Sharp’s goals , but also to a fine effort from the defensive rear-guard. Indeed Doncaster have not been breached in open play since Lewis McGugan’s emphatic goal at the City Ground in late November’s 4-1 defeat; coincidentally Leicester’s last away game also came at the City Ground where they fared slightly worse; beaten 5-1 by the in form Forest.

Having taken League One by storm last season it’s perhaps no surprise that Leicester City have hit the ground running in this season’s Championship. The Foxes come to the Keepmoat Stadium sitting proudly in fourth place having won their last two matches. Their already impressive squad was bolstered with a couple of key signings in the summer including most notably for Rovers fans, the man who stole Rufus Brevett’s eighteen year transfer value record; Richie Wellens. The midfielder was a great success in the Rovers side which came up and stayed up in the Championship and all reports suggest he is proving equally as valuable to Leicester City this term.

Wellens has good company in the Leicester midfield at present with fellow central midfielder Andy King being called up for Wales’ most recent squads in view of his impressive form. City also boast much experience in the form of Matt Oakley who was a top-flight mainstay with Southampton during twelve years on the South coast. Key to City’s rise though has been the goals of striker Matty Fryatt. Plucked from Walsall in 2006 the forward has averaged more than a goal every three games in 147 appearances for City.

Team News

Martin Woods remains unavailable for the Rovers owing to a torn groin suffered at the start of the month and despite past video evidence we should stress that this is a football injury. Quinton Fortune too is sidelined as is Steve Brooker, but then you probably knew that anyway. Sean McDaid could make a comeback now he’s back in training, but then so could Stuart Elliott so don’t hold your breath (no Elliott-asthma pun intended). The exciting news is that Brian Stock was on the bench at Coventry and given the defeat suffered in that game could well feature in a change in starting personnel for this game.

Leicester City will be without striker Martyn Waghorn, on loan from Sunderland, as he completes a three-match suspension. Defender Jack Hobbs is also a doubt after picking up a knock against Sheffield United on Boxing Day evening. Bruno Berner and Wayne Brown could make possible returns to Nigel Pearson’s side though having reportedly shaken off recent injuries.

Predicted Doncaster Rovers line-up

(4-3-2-1) Neil Sullivan; James Chambers, James O’Connor, Jason Shackell, Gareth Roberts; John Oster, Simon Gillett, Brian Stock; Jamie Coppinger, Dean Shiels; Billy Sharp

subs: Ben Smith, Byron Webster, Sam Hird, Mark Wilson, John Spicer, James Hayter, Lewis Guy

Travelling to the Game

Leicester City fans will be making their first ever trip to the Keepmoat Stadium so there is probably a great swathe of them currently staring blankly at the Doncaster Rovers’ club website yelling “But how the hell do I get there?” at frightened relatives. Luckily for all you lost Foxes Viva Rovers steps in where the official website lets itself down and by clicking on the Keepmoat Stadium link at the top of the page you’ll find a wealth of useful information. From how to get here by car, train or bus to where you can drink and where to collect tickets. Go on, have a look, it will relieve much pre-match stress.

Match Coverage

Lets face it, when you can’t get to the game there is only one way to enjoy the action at close quarters. Yep, thats right, in bursts of 140 characters or less and occasional pictures via the Viva Rovers match twitter feed. As ever I’ll be foregoing gloves in order to bring you frequent but usually misspelt updates live from the Keepmoat Stadium. Not only do you get a flavour of what’s going on out on the pitch, but you’ll also get Nick’s words of wisdom, and Geoff’s most ridiculous whinges. At the Bristol City game we even found Hulk Hogan in the West Stand. Anyway, enough of the hard sell, if you are on twitter you can keep up with the game by following @vivarovers, whilst those of you who are not can utilise the ‘Twitter Updates’ box on the right of this page for the same information.

If its live commentary you want then chances are you’ll have two options come Saturday afternoon, either somehow get near enough to Leicestershire to pick up BBC Radio Leicester or follow the match on Rovers Player (formerly Rovers World) with the ever entertaining Paul Mayfield. If none of these options light your Christmas candle then we’d recommend keeping an eye on BBC’s Score Interactive show on television (and would also recommend hitting mute when Garth Crooks is on) or the BBC’s online Live Text service. BBC Radio Sheffield should also have live updates from the match.

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About glen wilson

Former schoolboy, Glen Wilson writes on football and travel and has been editor of the award-winning popular STAND fanzine since before the award.

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