Behold people, its the non-derby fixture which has become a derby. Admittedly in a somewhat unrequited form on the part of Forest fans, but stick with it because there is history here. The two clubs’ supporters have never really seen eye to eye, but the dislike has its roots in recent social political history rather than anything on the pitch. As you would expect this rivalry comes from an unforgivable act of treachery still not forgotten. Yep its all because of Doncaster’s decision to lay claim to Nottingham’s most famous son and name its airport Robin Hood. Well either that or something to do with the Miners Strike. I forget to be honest.
Up until this season Rovers had good cause to welcome the visit of Nottingham Forest. In three seasons Rovers remained unbeaten against the Tricky Trees taking fourteen points from a possible eighteen, a run which culminated in last season’s memorable 4-2 Boxing Day win at the City Ground. Sadly, this season Forest finally ended their run of Rovers related woe by hitting four goals of their own, defeating Doncaster 4-1 in November, on an afternoon which will be remembered by most Rovers fans as the day they finally grew sick of hearing ‘Chelsea Dagger’ by The Fratellis.
That result was part of a fantastic run of results for Nottingham Forest which catapulted them from the lower reaches of the league table into valid contenders for automatic promotion. Led by the ever-irritating Billy Davies a Forest side which saw more ins and outs in the summer than the Wimbledon Hawkeye system, now finds itself in third place in the Championship. Aided by ten goals each from strikers Dexter Blackstock and Rob Earnshaw Forest went twenty-three games unbeaten before finally being toppled by local rivals Derby County at the end of last month.
That defeat at Pride Park was the first of two suffered by Forest in their last three games, with a loss at Coventry on Tuesday night giving Rovers fans some cause for optimism as they come into this game. Its perhaps a reflection of Doncaster’s current form that this cause for optimism is found in the stuttering form of their opponents than their own recent results. Doncaster come into this match without a win in a month, having suffered four defeat in a row before Tuesday’s goalless trip to Leicester. A win against recent foes Forest would certainly lift much of the gloom starting to cloud over the Rovers fans.
If they are to take anything from this game Rovers do need to get past a significant obstacle, in the form of the division’s best travelling defence. Forest have conceded just ten goals on their travels this season, with the impressive form of Lee Camp a chief reason for that. Doncaster do have a knack of pulling out a win when folk are starting to doubt though, and so hopefully we will be witnessing the flowing football shown in the fixtures with Cardiff and QPR rather than the stuttering stuff displayed for swathes of last Saturday’s fixture.
Just before we finish, I have a question. Who writes the match previews on the official club website? I understand that the club will of course be willing to put as positive a spin on anything they put out there, but in sections the preview for this game reads as if it has been penned by the Iraqi Information Minister. “In drawing on Tuesday evening, Doncaster Rovers created the perfect base with which to get back to winning ways following a run of three league defeats.”
It gets better as well, though you should perhaps ignore the poor phrasing which implies that all Forest fans are ticket touts. “Supporters of Nottingham Forest have already sold their entire allocation of tickets for the Keepmoat Stadium – and with Rovers fans sure to sell out the rest of the stadium, an electrifying atmosphere and an epic game of football are certainly on the cards.” Presumably his or her pen ran out at that point otherwise it would surely have gone on to add that “The team has been trained to its optimum performance level in the spirit of our glorious leader meaning that the superior Doncaster Rovers team will triumph over the inferior challenge of the men from the south.”
As sure as night follows day, as sure as the earth orbits the sun, you can be safe in the knowledge that whatever else changes in your life, you will always have one constant. Yep, thats right. Steve Brooker remains unavailable due to injury. He’s not the only regular Rovers absentee to be sidelined for this game as Adam Lockwood continues to be unavailable due to a foot injury, whilst fellow centre-half Jason Shackell is also injured. Waide Fairhurst and Martin Woods are also not expected to feature due to injury. Dean Shiels however should return after sitting out Tuesday’s match at Leicester owing to shoulder and ankle injuries.
Nottingham Forest are still without the services of Julian Bennett who was injured in the match against Rovers at the City Ground in November. Otherwise though Billy Davies’ arsenal is arguably over-stocked with Dele Adebola, Rob Earnshaw and David McGoldrick all trying to work their way into Forest’s starting eleven. Should Earnshaw play, and score, then he’ll be celebrating his 150th career goal… probably with a somersault.
Predicted Rovers line-up
(4-3-2-1) Neil Sullivan; James Chambers, James O’Connor, Shelton Martis, Gareth Roberts; Mark Wilson, John Oster, Brian Stock; Jamie Coppinger, Dean Shiels; Billy Sharp
subs: Ben Smith, Sam Hird, Sean McDaid, John Spicer, Jordan Mutch, James Hayter, Lewis Guy
Travelling to the Game
Forest fans have been to the Keepmoat Stadium before of course, in fact for many this will be their third visit. However, for those making their first trip to DN4 worry not Viva Rovers is on hand with all the information you could possibly need. As well as directions to the ground for those travelling by car, there is also directions for those walking from the train station or town centre. We even include instructions on how to negotiate those tricky picket lines (just kidding). All this and information on away friendly pubs and where to pick up tickets at the ground can be found by clicking on the ‘Keepmoat Stadium’ tab at the top of the page.
After a break in action for the match in midweek Viva Rovers frankly under appreciated pioneering live match twitter feed returns for this fixture. All you could possibly want to know about how the game is progressing, who’s singing what and any of Geoff’s choice whinges direct to your phone or computer in 140 characters or less. If you are on Twitter then simply follow @vivarovers or look out for the #drfc hashtag. Alternatively you can see the same information by refreshing the Twitter Updates box to the right hand side of this page.
For more comprehensive live match coverage you can tune into the match on BBC Radio Nottingham, or possibly BBC Radio Sheffield though there is a chance they may opt to cover the Blades game. If you don’t mind paying a subscription fee then you can also get live commentary through the club’s official Rovers Player service, though to soften the blow of shelling out for this it does now come with Paul Mayfield’s enjoyable and usually innuendo based views from the press box. Online you can of course keep an eye on the BBC Live Text service, whilst goal flashes and updates can be seen on BBC’s televised Score Interactive programme, but it does take quite some time to get used to the high exposure to Garth Crooks within this broadcast.