Had events ten months ago this week gone horribly awry for Doncaster then this fixture could have represented Rovers’ first re-acquaintance with a former manager. The thought of Sean O’Driscoll whispering his way through press conferences on the wrong side of the Pennines has just caused a genuine shudder down my spine. Thankfully though things did not go down that path despite announcements from S*y S***ts and the BBC proclaiming O’Driscoll Burnley boss. Instead today’s game offers the Clarets a Bullseye moment as they take a look at what they could’ve won and try not to look too disappointed with the Bendy Brian Laws they got to keep.
Since those two days spent glued to rolling sports news in January Burnley’s season in the sun has ended and they’re back with us, slumming it in the everyone beats everyone world of the Championship. The Lancashire side currently sit ninth in the table, above Rovers only on goal difference meaning a win for either side tonight will catapult them into the heart of the play-off picture. But then that’s pretty much the case every week in this division. At the moment Derby and Coventry and fourth and fifth respectively. How did that happen?
Burnley’s home form in the Championship this season had been as impressive as it had been for much of their Premier League flirtation. Leicester and Barnsley have both been beaten 3-0 at Turf Moor, Hull City were dispatched 4-0 whilst a dramatic last six minutes of the local derby against Preston saw Burnley convert a 3-1 loss into a 4-3 victory. So it was all swimming along nicely, until a fortnight ago, when Reading came north and inflicted a 4-0 defeat of their own on their hosts. Given Rovers tendency to be in the goals this season, a repeat of the 0-0 draw of this fixture two seasons ago looks decidedly unlikely. And given Viva Rovers past forrays into football prediction, now would be a good time to call in a wager on a goalless draw.
Rovers are of course without Billy Sharp who remains sidelined with a hamstring injury, he’ll be joined in the stands by George Friend, Adam Lockwood and Simon Gillett all ruled out with long-term injuries. Joseph Mills, aka ‘The Gareth Bale of the North” (Geoff, during Saturday’s game), could be ruled out with an ankle injury, which would likely lead to James O’Connor moving to left-back. However, it could possibly open the door to James Chambers, back from injury. Our money is on the former, with Dumbuya returning to the starting line-up.
Burnley are hoping that Andre Bikey will be fit to return to their starting line-up having missed Saturday’s game against Norwich with a rib injury. The Clarets manager Brian Laws also faces a dilemma as to who to play up front with Martin Paterson in competition for a starting place with top scorer Chris Iwelumo.
Predicted Doncaster Rovers line-up
(4-3-2-1) Neil Sullivan; Mustapha Dumbuya, Wayne Thomas, Shelton Martis, James O’Connor; John Oster, Brian Stock; Jamie Coppinger, Dean Shiels; James Hayter, David Healy
subs: Gary Woods, Sam Hird, James Chambers, Mark Wilson, Martin Woods, Steve Brooker, Waide Fairhurst
Travelling to the Game
First things first, wrap up warm. I went to watch Worcester City play Redditch United last night and my feet almost fell off. This was in the Midlands, and we all know its grim up North, particularly on the wrong side of the Pennines. It’s officialy two pairs of socks at the game season.
If you’re driving over the top to Turf Moor, then you want the M62 as far as junction 26 where you want the A58 towards Halifax. Stick with the A58 into Halifax and then follow the A646 through Hebden Bridge and Todmorden to Burnley. Approaching the town take the A671. The ground should be signposted from here with street parking available on the roads off Harry Potts Way.
Those of you throwing yourselves on the mercy of Northern Rail need to alight at Burnley Manchester Road station. The excellent Football Ground Guide website offers the following directions from there. Leaving the station cross the main road toward the cinema and the ground will be visible in the distance, straight ahead. Turn left down the dual carriageway (Centenary Way) and at the roundabout turn right under the canal bridge onto Yorkshire Street. The ground will come into view on your left.
No patented live match twitter coverage fromViva Rovers’ tonight I’m afraid folks as this game is further north than my employers allow me to venture on a school night. We will be tweeting second-hand information and general speculation, so if that floats your boat follow @vivarovers or if you are not a tweeter then keep an eye on twitter.com/vivarovers.
Live match coverage is, as ever, available through the Rovers Player service accessible via the club’s official website. Commentary comes from Chris Mortley, the hardest working press officer in show business. Expect updates on the airwaves from BBC Radio Sheffield, whilst those online are advised to use the BBC website’s ‘live text’ service. Its a painful watching experience, but it remains the most accurate service we’ve discovered thus far.