Put your best piece of Rovers related merchandise on and sort your hair out for God’s sake. We’re on telly mum. For the first time ever Rovers will tonight have one of their matches screened live on terrestrial television as the BBC roll into town for a South Yorkshire derby with Sheffield United. They’ve even called the programme Match of the Day and everything, although they are bringing Steve Claridge with them. Still, you can’t have it all can you.
The main story of tonight’s game and the one that Beeb will most likely pick up on is of course the meeting of Rovers striker Billy Sharp with his ex-employers and first footballing love Sheffield United. After a lengthy near season-long loan spell last season Sharp made his move to the Keepmoat Stadium permanent in the summer surprising most Rovers fans let alone the rest of the division as he was purchased for a record £1.15million fee. Today represents Sharp’s first opportunity to show the Blades exactly what they missed out on and if his record against his other former club at this tier Scunthorpe (3 goals in 2 games) is anything to go by, he is a player capable of exacting his vengeance.
The other story as far as Rovers are concerned is the number of folk watching. Attendances this season have been down against the corresponding fixtures of last year and with this game televised that’s set to continue this evening. It’s not the opinions of those at the Keepmoat Stadium which necessarily matters tonight though, more how Rovers performance reaches out to those watching in Doncastrian households. With cheap tickets available for November’s games against Millwall and Swansea a win and impressive performance tonight from the Rovers could do well to persuade those watching at home to step away from the television set and move into the stadium for the next match. It may be on the BBC but this has the potential to be one big advert for Doncaster.
Rovers defensive injury crisis may be lessened a little with rumours that James O’Connor and Shelton Martis will be back in contention for tonight’s game. Wayne Thomas, James Chambers and George Friend are all highly unlikely to feature though meaning on-loan Joseph Mills could retain his left-back place. Simon Gillett is unavailable after straining ligaments in the midweek defeat to Derby so expect Martin Woods to join John Oster and Brian Stock in midfield. According to the Twitter feed of Rovers Press Officer Chris Mortley “Sharp is so up for this one it’s unreal”.
Sheffield United have a number of their own absentees to deal with as the make the short journey along the M18. Doncaster born Darius Henderson is unavailable as too are Lee Williamson, Ryan France and Nick Montgomery, the latter with an achilles problem. According to the BBC Stephen Jordan is also doubtful with a hamstring injury and may be replaced by Ritchie De Laet.
Predicted Doncaster Rovers line-up
(4-2-2-1-1) Neil Sullivan; Mustapha Dumbuya, James O’Connor, Sam Hird, Joseph Mills; Martin Woods, John Oster, Brian Stock; Jamie Coppinger, James Hayter; Billy Sharp
subs: Gary Woods, Byron Webster, Mark Wilson, Brian Stock, Dean Shiels, Waide Fairhurst, Steve Brooker
Travelling to the Game
Most Sheffield United fans are probably familiar with the Keepmoat Stadium by now with this representing the club’s third cross county visit. However, for the uninitiated everything you could possibly want to know can be found in our very own guide to the Keepmoat Stadium. You’ll find all this info, from where to pick your tickets up, how to get there, and where you can grab a pre-match drink under the ‘Keepmoat Stadium’ tab at the top of the page because us Yorkshire-folk are matter of fact like that.
This game brings a return of our coveted live-match Twitter coverage, though admittedly we’re watching on the box so its a distinctly second-hand service today. Get notes from us in 140 characters or less throughout the game by following @vivarovers if you’re a twitter user or alternatively just keep an eye on twitter.com/vivarovers.
Chances are you won’t be looking at our tweets though as if you’re not at the game you’ll be watching live on BBC2 as Colin Murray hosts Match of the Day from the Keepmoat Stadium. Steve Claridge is a pundit, so mute might be a considered option. If you can’t get to a television set then there should be two other options of live commentary via the wireless and BBC Radio Sheffield and also through the club’s own Rovers Player service.