What’s the opposite of Cup Fever? Cup Apathy I guess. Well, its not quite reached that point amongst Rovers support, but there seems to be a subdued interest in tonight’s League Cup 1st round tie against the team of Ian Rush advice ignorers of Accrington Stanley.
How did we get to this apathetic state? After all, its not so long ago we were in Stanley’s shoes, travelling to take on clubs from a higher division. Remember the infamous LDV Vans win at Wigan (but not the subsequent 8-0 next round defeat at Crewe). These are the sort of nights we used to thrive on as fans, but alas it seems the realism of football at a higher level has stifled our all-embracing approach to live football. Quite simply, it costs a lot to go to watch football, so as much as I hate to admit it, the Carling Cup first round offers a good opportunity to save the pennies for another game. Its nothing personal against Accrington, whoever Rovers faced tonight I would have been where I will, sat in Viva Towers, exiled in the West Midlands.
Rovers, being the practical bunch they are, will be focussing on the league this season. Which is a shame really, because for fans of my age (indeed of any age I guess) Rovers Cup runs are a fleeting diversion. There was the Carling Cup run in 2005, the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy triumph of 2007 and, er, QPR and Everton in the 1985 FA Cup. Given that I was just two years old at the time of the latter, you’ll forgive me if I don’t count it. So, yep, I would love a Cup run, I’ve had a disproportionate amount of League success to cheer in recent years so put me down for more Cup based fun please. And for that to happen, we need first to negotiate a potentially tricky opponent in Accrington Stanley.
The Lancashire side have a pedigree in this competition having sprung a surprise in the first round last season, defeating Walsall 2-1, before going out by the same scoreline to Queens Park Rangers in the second round. Indeed Stanley have proved difficult opponents for many since joining the League. In 2008-09 it took extra-time for Wolverhampton Wanderers to knock-out Accrington at Molineux, whilst Stanley’s debut in the competition the previous season saw them defeat Nottingham Forest.
Like Rovers, Accrington got their season underway on Saturday, drawing 0-0 with last season’s play-off contenders Aldershot Town at the Crown Ground. That draw could be sen as a decent result for the home side given that the summer saw eight new faces join the club, many of which made their competitive bow against the Shots. Now established in League Two Stanley will certainly be keen to cause an upset at the Keepmoat Stadium and should not be underestimated by Rovers.
Rovers injured quartet of James Chambers, John Oster, Mark Wilson and Byron Webster will remain absent for tonight’s game. Simon Gillett is also absent, suspended following his sending off on Saturday whilst captain Brian Stock is on international duty with Wales. These six absentees coupled with Sean O’Driscoll no doubt resting players mean that the Rovers line-up and indeed squad selection could spring a few surprises tonight.
Perhaps the most certain of starters will be Mustapha Dumbaya, touted for a first team place after an impressive pre-season, tonight would be the perfect opportunity for a run out. This fixture will most likely also see Josh Payne make his debut in midfield, whilst Waide Fairhurst and Robbie Clark could also feature given player unavailability.
Accrington Stanley forward Ryan Boulding is expected to be in contention despite having to leave the field injured against Aldershot at the weekend. Boulding will undergo a fitness test ahead of the game according to the BBC. Boulding’s fellow forward Craig Linfield is also an injury doubt with either Chris Turner or Andy Parkinson poised to step in.
Predicted Doncaster Rovers line-up
(4-3-2-1) Neil Sullivan; Mustapha Dumbaya, Sam Hird, Shelton Martis, George Friend; Josh Payne, Martin Woods, Robbie Clark; Jamie Coppinger, Waide Fairhurst; Billy Sharp
subs: Gary Woods, Adam Lockwood, James O’Connor, Dean Shiels, James Hayter, Steve Brooker
Travelling to the Game
They’re here, they’re there, they’re every *ahem* where; empty seats, empty seats. The Stanley Ultras will probably have good cause to sing this ditty at the Keepmoat Stadium tonight with a low turnout expected. Indeed the South Stand is not even being opened for this game, an understandable move, which caused much angry bleating from folk on the messageboard. Come on, its not like its the Pop Side. Stanley fans heading across to South Yorkshire will find very little of help to them in regard to the Stadium on the official club website, but thankfully we’re more informative here at Viva Rovers. All visiting fans need to know can be found 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 details of where to pick up tickets.
Alas we’re trapped in the West Midlands tonight so Viva Rovers much celebrated and occasionally functioning in-game twitter feed will be operating on a purely second-hand basis. Join us in the social media exile by following @vivarovers on Twitter and using the #drfc hashtag.
If you’re in South Yorkshire you’ll be able to listen to live updates courtesy of BBC Radio Sheffield, though they are likely to be giving Chesterfield v Middlesbrough full match coverage. Indeed the only way to follow the game live would be to sign up for Rovers Player via the club website. Online you can follow the BBC’s Live Text service for very short but factual updates, or go to the Rovers official website where Tony Bluff will be producing a live match report apparently. Though this is unlikely to extend beyond a weather-based introduction and the team line-ups so may not be the best option.