And so it comes to this. Six games to go, one month until the end of the season and Rovers remain in position for a realistic play-off push. Hands up who thought there was a chance of that being the case. Nope, no hands up here either. Now hands up who thought instead that we would be in a position like that of Saturday’s opponents Plymouth. Alright, alright one hand each will do. Argyle come to Doncaster in the Championship’s bottom two, a position which, after selling Richie Wellens and Matt Mills in the Summer, many expected Rovers to occupy.
Instead Doncaster are amongst the contenders and the dreamers, holding onto eighth place; their highest league position in over half a century. A gruelling spring run of eight games in a month has brought just a single defeat, and that to the league leaders, meaning Rovers are very much in their position on merit. And so as it did six years and three divisions ago in 2003/04, the Easter weekend could just well become the pivotal point in an unlikely promotion push. Victory over Plymouth and Blackpool this weekend and we could just dream again.
Of course as Rovers own success this season asserts, victory over any team in this division is no certainty, nor no right. Many of our more illustrious Championship opponents will have expected to collect maximum points against ThelikesofDoncaster, but that hasn’t happened with all that great a regularity . Whilst Rovers will kick-off just six games away from a possible fairytale Argyle have six games to save their Championship place.
What test Paul Mariner’s Plymouth will set the Rovers this weekend is hard to assert. Five points adrift of safety Argyle need to push for every point available to them, but with three of the five fixtures left after this one at home their approach is still likely to be measured and calculated rather than gung-ho all or nothing. Its difficult to speculate an opponent’s tactics in these fixtures so to predict that Plymouth will get bodies behind the ball and luck to counter attack Rovers and pounce on set-pieces, is a premonition based solely on circumstance rather than experience. However, what on paper may seem a last resort tactic, out on what remains of the Keepmoat grass has often proved quite effective, and so Plymouth may be wise to play it safe for one more week.
Not even Easter has enabled Steve Brooker to make a timely rise from the dead, and so the one-time professional footballer remains entombed in the Rovers medical room. Also absent are Rovers trio of loaned out players with Paul Heffernan, Lewis Guy and John Spicer currently at Bristol Rovers, Oldham Athletic, and Leyton Orient respectively. Also absent is of course Brian Stock who remains out with his back injury causing Rovers to extend the loan of Jordan Mutch though Sean O’Driscoll will most likely name the same team as started at Barnsley last weekend.
Plymouth Argyle will be hoping that midfielder Carl Fletcher recovers from injury in time for this fixture. The former Welsh international missed the game against Barnsley in the week with a gashed knee, presumably they don’t do plasters in the Devon area. Chris Clark replaced Fletcher against the Tykes and will be prepared to stand-in again should the Argyle captain be unavailable again. Kari Arnason and Richard Eckersley are also reported as doubts by the BBC owing to hip and ankle injuries respectively.
Predicted Doncaster Rovers line-up
(4-3-2-1) Neil Sullivan; James Chambers, James O’Connor, Shelton Martis, Gareth Roberts; Mark Wilson, John Oster; Jamie Coppinger, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, James Hayter; Billy Sharp
subs: Ben Smith, Adam Lockwood, Sam Hird, Sean McDaid, Jordan Mutch, Martin Woods, Dean Shiels,
Travelling to the Game
A holiday weekend means that we can expect a bumper crop of Plymouth Argyle fans to visit the Keepmoat, quit possibly into three figures. We’re not scoffing at them here you understand, we fully understand our place as one of the lesser draws of this league and when it costs so much to attend games these days we salute each Argyle fan who ventures to DN4 on Saturday. For those who are heading North, whilst the official club website offers little help in terms of directions for away supporters, Viva Rovers kindly does so you will find all you need to know via the ‘Keepmoat Stadium’ tab at the top of this page. On that page you’ll find directions to the ground for those travelling by car, or by public transport as well as suggested local pubs and where to pick up tickets.
Behold people, this game heralds the long awaited return of Viva Rovers infamous live match Twitter Feed. For those who can’t make it to the game we will be broadcasting all the details from this clash of the, er, the, what’s the opposite of titans? Simply follow @vivarovers on Twitter and look out for the #drfc hashtag or alternatively keep an eye on the ‘Twitter Updates’ box on the right hand edge of this page. Do that and you’ll get all the details of the match in bursts of 140 characters or less, including when Geoff’s first whinge is delivered, which 80s celebrity Nick has decided to impersonate and just what the prat on the PA is saying.
Live commentary is available for this game on BBC Radio Devon, but we suspect that won’t be much help for any of you. If you’re in a more plausible part of the country then you will need to invest in the official club website’s Rovers Player. In recent weeks sadly Rovers Player subscribers have been deprived of Paul Mayfield’s much loved co-commentary owing to the club only owning one set of headphones (alas, sadly this is not a joke), however thankfully a supporter who works at Electromusic kindly donated Paul a new set to use so you should be able to hear Mr Mayfield’s muffled background biscuit bunching once again.
If you begrudge paying out to know what’s going on then you may want to try the ‘live text’ service via the BBC website. It won’t be very descriptive, but it will tell you all more about throw-ins and offside free-kicks than you could have ever cared to know. There is also BBC’s Score Interactive service on television via the red button, but unfortunately this does feature Garth Crooks. And lastly we are informed that this match is being broadcast live on Scandinavian television so a search via the internet for live stream’s may get you full and uninterrupted coverage.