The Championship can be a daunting place. Littered with big clubs licking their wounds, and numerous other teams with an inflated sense of importance brought on by new money or big stadia, or a trophy won very long ago when players were black and white and much jumpier. It’s not really for the likes of us. So, having spent months being made as welcome as rapper Chris Brown at a Women’s Refuge you’d think our fellow lesser clubs would band together with us for solidarity in numbers. It seems not, as when Rovers defeated Peterborough United earlier in the season Posh fans were seen to complain about defeat to ‘the likes of Doncaster’. Yes, Peterborough fans. And to think I often despair at the delusions of grandeur shown by some Rovers supporters.
Anyway supporters of The Posh will be forced to wearily trudge uninspired towards London Road on Tuesday night for the uninspiring draw that is another game against ‘the likes of Doncaster’. Half of them will probably turn round and go home once they get to the turnstiles, unable to find the willpower to lower themselves to the spectre of watching their team of gallacticos face off against a pub team from up the A1. Though in the conscious of any football fan they will reside amongst the established order, Manchester United, Liverpool, Juventus, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Peterborough will instead have to attempt to find enthusiasm for a Championship match against ‘the likes of Doncaster Rovers’.
That’s my opening gambit milked for all its worth, now on to the game itself. Rovers of course make the relatively short trip South as a team in form. Unbeaten in four games including that emphatic away victory at Bristol City a week ago, Rovers may not have moved much positionally, but they have closed in on the teams at the top. Indeed if Doncaster win at London Road tonight and Cardiff fail to take all three points in their game then Rovers will suddenly be within two points of the play-offs. I know we say it often, but its a far cry from taunting full-backs with the Jim’ll Fix It theme tune in FA Trophy games at Osset.
Peterborough, though rock bottom of the Championship have found some form of their own ahead of tonight’s game. Back to back wins against Sheffield United and away at Watford at the weekend have lifted the mood of those surrounding London Road. Relegation was seen as an inevitability by the Posh chairman a few weeks ago, but since that claim Peterborough seem to have relaxed into a winning side. They may have been bottom for a while, but as we proved ourselves last season, there’s always a way back.
What is also noticable about Peterborough’s recent results is that when they have been beaten it has been very much touch and go. Their last three defeats have only been by a single goal, indeed the only time they have been soundly beaten by a side since the turn of the year was when they took on Derby having been reduced to nine men. Posh have developed the steely resolve that makes a difference between staying up and disappearing, their comeback from 4-0 down to draw with Cardiff in December shows that they’re far from throwing in the towel just yet, and so ‘the likes of Doncaster’ will have their work cut out tonight to breakdown Posh.
The main news for Rovers is the end of Elliott Ward’s loan spell. The centre half has already secured his place in Rovers fans’ memories thanks to his spectacular goal on his debut at Hillsborough, and so few will really begrudge his return to Coventry City. Thankfully as one player exits another enters just in the nick of time with Shelton Martis back in contention having returned from injury for a late cameo from the bench in Saturday’s victory. The dilemma for Sean O’Driscoll will presumably be who to partner with James O’Connor at centre-back out of Martis and Sam Hird.
Also returning from injury to feature late on against Derby was Martin Woods, the midfielder finally over the groin problem which has kept him out for a significant period. Chances are Woods will start from the bench tonight, a bench which will be without Lewis Guy who this week joined Oldham on loan meaning Rovers substitute options will be light on forwards tonight. Indeed the only two fit and available at the club are James Hayter and Billy Sharp who are both likely to start, Waide Fairhurst and Steve Brooking? Booker? Brooker? …something like that, are both out injured.
Peterborough United have defensive concerns coming into this fixture with on loan Arsenal full-back Kerrea Gilbert ruled out and centre back Ryan Bennet also injured. According to the BBC The Posh manager Jim Gannon is also set to give late fitness tests to Lee Frecklington and David Whelpdale with the pair looking to return from recent injuries.
Predicted Doncaster Rovers line-up
(4-2-3-1) Neil Sullivan; James Chambers, James O’Connor, Shelton Martis, Gareth Roberts; John Oster, Mark Wilson; Jamie Coppinger, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, James Hayter; Billy Sharp
subs: Ben Smith, Adam Lockwood, Sam Hird, Jordan Mutch, Martin Woods, John Spicer, Dean Shiels,
Travelling to the Game
Whenever Peterborough United are mentioned on the back row of the West Stand of a Rovers matchday I inevitably get regaled with stories of Matt and Nick’s last visit to London Road. Though Rovers won the match their enjoyment was tapered somewhat by the fact that one particularly large Rovers fan decided to spend the second half not watching the match, but facing away from the pitch and staring obsessively and unnervingly at them. Sgt. Pile as he has been duly nicknamed is still seen at Rovers games, so our main tip for this trip is to be wary that you don’t become his next stare-out victim.
Anyway, oddball fans aside London Road does offer the fantastic prospect of being able to stand on a terrace and watch a Rovers league game. This is how ‘the likes of Doncaster’ are meant to be watched, not in these shiny plastic bowls, but on a slab of crumbling concrete beneath a creaking corrugated iron roof. Rovers fans will be able to enjoy this delight on the Moyes Terrace behind the goal, with the added rustic appeal of pillars to try and peer round to see the game.
If you’re driving to the match then you won’t need us to tell you that Peterborough is south down the A1, but we will tell you where to head when you’ve done that bit. You want the A605 from the A1 towards Peterborough and Alwaton and then continue on the A605 following signs for the City Centre initially and then Whittlesey. This will take you pretty much directly to London Road with parking available at the ground and also in nearby pay & display car parks.
For those travelling to Peterborough the ground is only a mile away from the station so will take you twenty minutes to walk at the most. Turn right as you come out of the train station onto Bourges Boulevard, going under the blue footbridge and then through the subway which passes under the roundabout. Continue along the dual carriageway of Bourges Boulevard and then turn right onto the pedestrianised Bridge Street. At the end of Bridge Street continue straight ahead over the bridge and along London Road, and the ground will come into view on your left.
Despite Saturday’s successful twitter broadcast in which we not only successfully updated you on the match, but also brought you the time of Geoff’s first whinge, Nick’s range of impressions, and pictures from three sides of the Keepmoat Stadium, I’m afraid that our twitter feed is again relegated to a second hand feed only tonight. We’ll still be bringing you updates where we can which you can find by following @vivarovers or checking the Twitter Update box on this page, but alas we’ll be more a medium than a source.
If you want live commentary of this match then you will need to invest in the official club website’s Rovers Player, though the trauma of paying out is softened by the amount of Paul Mayfield you get for your money. For regular updates back in South Yorkshire you can tune into BBC Radio Sheffield, or if you’re on the internet try the BBC’s online Live Text service which will tell you more than you could ever wish to know about throw-ins and other set-pieces.