“Its payback time!” At least it is according to a promotional video on the Doncaster Rovers official website this week which suggested Rovers were out to avenge the 4-0 home defeat inflicted by Swansea in January 2008. Even if you discount the two goalless draws played out between these sides at the Keepmoat since it’s a stretched point. If either of the two clubs were in the mood for ‘payback’ in this fixture it would arguably be the visitors, who missed out on the fourth Championship play-off spot last season as Rovers failed to roll over in the campaign’s final match.
Contrived revenge theories aside it is seventh against third at the Keepmoat Stadium, making it the Championship’s big match of the day, a fact which will have escaped few of those present, but most certainly will have flown high over the heads of others, those working on The Football League Show for example. Its shame really as Steve Claridge’s token “they do like to play the ball around” soundbites could have applied to both teams thus saving enough programme time for a least two more banal emails to Lizzie about how Leeds or Chesterfield or Norwich or Brighton are heading back where they belong. Very much a wasted opportunity. Don’t you think Leroy?
Back to this game though and the rare prospect of a full house in the home sections of the Keepmoat Stadium. A cheap ticket promotion coupled with positive recent results have seen (at the time of writing) just under 11,600 tickets sold to home fans alone. It will be interesting to see how Swansea cope up against the intimidating atmosphere that is three full stands of Yorkshire-folk collectively yelling “Gerrit for’ard” and “Stop fannying about wi’ it”. The ticket sales have proved one thing though and that’s that Yorkshire folk do love a bargain. £10 to watch flowing football the likes of which this town hasn’t seen before, and a decent opposition? I’ll take 11,000.
It’s not just a penchant for the passing game that links these two sides coming into this game, as both clubs will take the Keepmoat turf full of confidence. Doncaster are unbeaten in three, having followed up a hard-fought 2-1 win over Millwall with an impressive four point haul from the tricky away games at Burnley and Portsmouth that has lifted them to seventh in the Championship table. The visitors Swansea currently occupy their highest league position for the best part of seventeen years propelled by a run which has seen them defeated just once in eight matches coming into this game.
There have been three notable contributors to Swansea’s promotion push of late. The first is the form of talented midfielder Scott Sinclair, the tricky winger is known to Rovers fans having scored a sensational Carling Cup goal against Doncaster for Plymouth a couple of years ago, and thus far for City he has been just as devastating, scoring 12 goals in sixteen games. The second key factor in Swansea’s rise to third has been their away form, with four straight wins on the road coming into this game, and the third is their defence having kept clean sheets in seven of their last eight league matches. John Stead’s winner for Bristol City at the Liberty Stadium eleven days ago being the only goal the Swans have conceded in 720 minutes of Championship football.
It looks a daunting record, but there are two comforting factors Rovers fans can take with them to the Keepmoat. The first is that no other club in the Championship is currently scoring as frequently as the Rovers. No, seriously. Doncaster have struck in every game since September’s 3-0 loss at Loftus Road goal and a goal tomorrow would see them become the first Championship side to score in ten consecutive fixtures this season. The second is that Swansea, despite their lofty position, have not picked up a single point after going behind.
According to the official club website Rovers will be without Shelton Martis who has a groin problem, meaning Sean O’Driscoll will again after to alter his back-line. We’ve suggested Sam Hird will get the nod after his performance as a holding midfielder/sweeper last Saturday, but there is just as much chance of James O’Connor being moved back into the middle and Joseph Mills returning from injury.
Billy Sharp is back in contention having returned to training from his hamstring tear quicker than anyone expected, though O’Driscoll is unlikely to change his forward line from the start with David Healy and James Hayter in fine form in the forward’s absence. With Waide Fairhurst and Byron Webster out on loan expect new recruits Simon Whaley and Dennis Sousa to be included on the bench. Simon Gillett, James Chambers, George Friend and Martin Woods ll remain unavailable with long-term injuries, Dean Shiels should return to the side though after missing last weekend’s trip to the South coast.
Swansea City will be without Alan Tate and Gary Monk for this game. The former is suspended, whilst Monk is injured having limped our of Sunday’s match at Middlesbrough with a calf strain. Albert Serran and Neil Taylor are expected to deputise for the absentees with Welsh international Ashley Williams set to captain the Swans. City will also need to adjust their attack plans with striker Marvin Emnes having now returned to Middlesbrough following his loan spell.
Predicted Doncaster Rovers line-up
(4-2-2-1-1) Neil Sullivan; James O’Connor, Sam Hird, Wayne Thomas, Mustapha Dumbuya; John Oster, Brian Stock; Jamie Coppinger, Dean Shiels; James Hayter; David Healy
subs: Gary Woods, Joseph Mills, Mark Wilson, Steve Brooker, Dennis Sousa, Simon Whaley, Billy Sharp
Travelling to the Game
Swansea City fans will mostly by now be well versed in all that the Keepmoat Stadium has to offer. Those who are travelling up for the game for the first time however, can find all they need to know about the ground in our very own guide to the Keepmoat Stadium. You’ll find all this info, under the ‘Keepmoat Stadium’ tab at the top of the page because us Yorkshire-folk are matter of fact like that.
Our live match Twitter feed gained quite a following last week at Portsmouth, until Fratton Park became a mobile phone signal black hole with the score at 2-1. So those who can’t make the game will be glad to know we intend to be up and running again for this home match. We’ll be relaying the sights, sounds and Geoff’s whinges straight from the Keepmoat to you lucky people. If you’re on Twitter follow @vivarovers and the #drfc hashtag, or alternatively just keep an eye on twitter.com/vivarovers for our 140 character or less despatches from DN4.
As ever live match commentary is available from the club’s own Rovers Player service, though you will need to subscribe to get the full enjoyment of Chris Mortley’s commentary. If you’re not near a computer or a fancy mobile phone then you will be able to get regular updates courtesy of the lovely people at BBC Radio Sheffield. Alternatively you can follow events from the comfort of your sofa by tuning into BBC’s Score Interactive, accessible via the red button from 3pm onwards. If you turn the sound off and place something in front of the left edge of the screen then you’ll also minimalise Garth Crooks’ impact on your afternoon.