Chances are you won’t remember Rovers last match with Leicester City. If you do, then the chances are you won’t remember what you had for breakfast, or where you left your glasses, or the name of that film whatdyamacallit was in. December 1956 was the last time Rovers and Leicester City played one another, with City triumphing 2-0 at Belle Vue. So if any of you has any grievance based upon that game, a dodgy offside for the second goal perhaps, or having your flat cap knocked off by a visiting Leicester fan on the trolleybus back down Bennetthorpe, you can now sleep easy again, the chance for revenge is finally here.
Leicester City are currently enjoying their first season back in the Championship after a brief flirtation with League One last season. Enjoying is the right word as well with The Foxes currently sitting in the last play-off spot after a smash and grab win away at Blackpool on Saturday. City’s position in the table will look pretty ominous for Rovers fans too, given that Doncaster have struggled manfully against teams in the higher reaches of the division – a 2-0 victory over Cardiff in September is Rovers only win over a top ten side this season.
Leicester were runaway leaders of League One last season, and they have continued that form into this campaign with much the same side. The strikeforce of Steve Howard and Matty Fryatt may not have been quite as prolific as lasts eason but it has certainly proved effective. Manager Nigel Pearson also made some key signings in the summer which have benefitted City’s push this season. The highly rated Danny N’Guessen joined from Lincoln City and has proved a useful addition to the attack, whilst at the other end goalkeeper Chris Weale has proved an inspired buy, having fallen out of favour at Bristol City he has been a key contributor to Leicester’s form and made a string of fine saves in Saturday’s win at Blackpool. The transfer window also enabled Pearson to add useful experience with the capture of veteran Peruvian midfielder Nolberto Solano.
The most notable summer inductee as far as Rovers fans are concerned though was the £1.2million signing Richie Wellens. A few Foxes fans were surprised when Leicester chose to pay Rovers a then club record fee received for the midfielder, but as the season has gone on the price tag has certainly been justified. Wellens has performed for Leicester in the manner he did so well for Rovers, able to break up play with force when needed but also able to kickstart attacks with skill and surprising grace on the ball. He was a significant loss to Rovers, and Sean O’Driscoll will be aware of the threat he possesses.
Rovers come into this game in poor form, arriving at the Walkers Stadium off the back of four successive defeats. Underwhelming performances against Derby in the FA Cup and Middlesbrough in the league were followed by a cruel loss at Cardiff and Saturday’s poor loss against Reading. That last defeat had a significant effect on the league table too, as victory would have seen Rovers safely positioned ten points above the relegation zone, but defeat has left the third bottom Biscuitmen just four points behind. Should Rovers match their second half performance in Cardiff, or their opening twenty minute spell against Reading then all should be well.
As we said at the top of this piece its a long time since Doncaster played Leicester, and its even longer since Rovers returned from Leicestershire victorious. Doncaster last won away at Leicester City in 1902, when the home club were still known as Leicester Fosse, so if you want a glimmer of hope to cling to tonight, we are due a win.
Both the BBC and the Rovers’ official website report that Sean O’Driscoll has no new injury worries ahead of tonight’s game which would suggest that Shelton Martis is fit again despite limping off during the second half of Saturday’s match. Still Steve Brooker won’t be lonely in his medical room as he’ll have a trio of central defenders to keep him happy with Adam Lockwood, Jason Shackell and Byron Webster all sidelined, along with Martin Woods who is also yet to return to full fitness.
Leicester City are set to be without Yann Kermorgant as a hamstring injury looks likely to rule out the French forward. Martyn Waghorn, on loan from Sunderland continues to suffer from a knee problem, but is likely to feature regardless. The Foxes also welcome back the most significant player in the eyes of Rovers fans too, as Richie Wellens returns from suspension. The ex-Rovers midfielder returns having missed the victory at Blackpool after being sent-off against Newcastle the previous weekend.
Predicted Doncaster Rovers line-up
(4-3-2-1) Neil Sullivan; James Chambers, James O’Connor, Shelton Martis, Gareth Roberts; John Oster, Mark Wilson, Brian Stock; Jamie Coppinger, Dean Shiels; Billy Sharp
subs: Ben Smith, Sean McDaid, Sam Hird, Jordan Mutch, John Spicer, James Hayter, Lewis Guy
Travelling to the Game
Another away game, another big shiny concrete bowl. Like Coventry, Derby and Cardiff, Leicester too have a fancy new stadium built in recent years to call their own. Rovers fans will be housed in the North East corner of the ground with a view on offer not dissimilar to that experienced at Cardiff or indeed Coventry. According to the excellent Football Ground Guide website some away supporters have experienced a rather heavy handed approach from the local police when visiting Leicester, so there’s something to look forward to.
Those of you travelling by car should leave the M1 at Junction 21 and take the A4560 towards Leicester city centre. Carry on until you pass under a railway bridge, and then 200 yards after this you need to go right at the traffic lights, and then right again into Filbert Street. The new stadium should be visible ahead. Leicester Rugby Club offer matchday parking for £3 or alternatively you can take your chances against the local traffic wardens by parking in nearby streets.
The train station is a twenty minute or so walk from the ground, so if you are travelling by rail you’ll need to hot foot it back afterwards as the last train back to Doncaster leaves at 22:06. From the station, cross the road outside and turn left and you’ll now be heading along the Central Ring Road (Waterloo Way), keep to the path as the road to your left drops away. Keep to this pathway, before turning right onto Lancaster Road and then cross the park toward the pedestrian crossing. Cross here and then keep the rugby ground on your left as you head down Ayelstone Road. Turn right just after the cricket pitch for the stadium.
Sad news I’m afraid folks. The doubly disappointing factor of having an early start in the day job of a Wednesday and also living at the wrong end of the country means that alas Viva Rovers twitter feed will not be broadcasting to its full capability. We’ll still be delivering updates on the game, but on a wholly second hand basis I’m afraid. You can as ever access this service by following @vivarovers if you are a twitter user, 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 open to you tonight, and one of those will be dependent on you living in Leicestershire and being able to pick up BBC Radio Leicester. The other will be to subscribe to the Rovers Player service (formerly Rovers World) through the official Rovers website where you can play innuendo bingo through Paul Mayfield’s broadcast. If none of these options float your boat then we’d recommend keeping an eye on BBC’s Score Interactive show on television (and would also recommend hitting mute if Garth Crooks is on) or the BBC’s online Live Text service. BBC Radio Sheffield should also have live updates from the match.