If you are reading this and you can remember the last time Doncaster won at Leicester then hello to you Walter Breuning. Yes, it was so long ago that only the world’s oldest living man can legitimately claim to have been present when the Rovers last won in the city, defeating Leicester Fosse in 1902. I think its safe to say that in this fixture above any other we’re due a win.
I have never seen Rovers on the same pitch Leicester City as freezing Christmas temperatures a year ago meant that both last season’s fixtures against the Foxes were played in midweek, rendering them unattendable for a non-driving exile such as myself. As such I have been looking forward to my trip to Walkers Stadium and have vowed not to let anything put me off, not the fact that the home fans are getting in for £16 cheaper than me, not even the vacant appearance of Serge from Kasabian at the FA Cup 3rd round draw. Nothing.
The two league games in 2009-10 represented the first meetings between the two sides in over fifty years and absence it seems has not so much made the heart grow fonder, but certainly dismissive when it comes to Leicester fans. A quick scan of one Leicester messageboard showed that few fans were expecting anything less than a 2-0 win with most predicting 4-0 or 5-0 routs. Who could expect anything less when little Donny Rovers come to town? They used to be in the Conference you know. It’s a remarkable confidence of support, even up against Barnstoneworth United I’d be wary of predicting anything more than a draw for Rovers.
Last time out Doncaster suffered an off day at Crystal Palace with a disjointed 1-0 defeat bringing a disappointing end to what had been a promising November. That loss at Selhurst Park represented the first match in eleven in which Rovers have failed to score, coming ironically on the day that Sean O’Driscoll had the most forwards at his disposal this season. The extension of David Healy’s loan spell coupled with the return to fitness of Billy Sharp and Steve Brooker has given O’Driscoll a far from unpleasant selection dilemma as he tries to factor in these three forwards with November’s Championship Player of the Month James Hayter.
Its a call he’ll be under pressure to get right as goals will be vital at the Walkers Stadium. Eighteen of Leicester’s 25 points this season have been amassed at home, and anyone taking points off the Foxes at the Walkers Stadium has had to score at least two goals to do so. In the view of Leicester’s impressive home record its easy to forget, or at least it has been for their fans, that Rovers sit four places and two points above them in the table, with a game in hand. Up against a strong home team in whats set to be a full home stadium this is not set to be an easy task for Rovers, but they should take confidence from the table and from their own performance in the arguably more daunting atmosphere of Fratton Park a month ago.
Rovers’ trio of knee injury suffering players remain absent for this fixture. The Knee Three as they have become known of Simon Gillet, James Chambers, and George Friend will all be unavailable for the trip down the M1. ALso a doubt is full-back and all round nice guy Mustapha Dumbuya who is suffering from, yes you’ve guessed it, a knee injury. The good news for Sean O’Driscoll is that Martin Woods is back in contention after his groin injury whilst the on loan Joseph Mills is also due a return from his recent ankle problem.
Aleksander Tunchev is Sven Goran Eriksson’s only definite absentee for this game, though there are conflicting reports over the fitness of on-loan goalkeeper Chris Kirkland who has been suffering from a back injury. Both Roman Bednar and Miguel Vitor are expected return from recent knocks and be in contention for a starting place.
Predicted Doncaster Rovers line-up
(4-2-2-2) Neil Sullivan; James O’Connor, Shelton Martis, Wayne Thomas, Joseph Mills; John Oster, Brian Stock; Jamie Coppinger, James Hayter; David Healy, Billy Sharp
subs: Gary Woods, Adam Lockwood, Sam Hird, Mark Wilson, Martin Woods, Dean Shiels, Steve Brooker
Travelling to the Game
If you’re driving from Doncaster then you’ve probably fathomed that you want to be heading south down the M1 at some-point on Saturday. Leave the M1 at junction 21 and take the A5460 towards the city. Stay on this road and continue under the railway bridge , 200 yards after which you need to turn right at the traffic lights for Upperton Road. Parking-wise your best bet is on the streets round here, with the stadium accessible via the next right, Filbert Street.
If you’re travelling by train then you’ll be pleased to hear the ground is within walking distance of Leicester train station. From the station, cross the road outside and turn left and you’ll now be heading along the Central Ring Road (Waterloo Way), keep to the path as the road to your left drops away. Keep to this pathway, before turning right onto Lancaster Road and then cross the park toward the pedestrian crossing. Cross here and then keep the rugby ground on your left as you head down Ayelstone Road. Turn right just after the cricket pitch for the stadium.
If you’ve chosen to stay-away in protest at Rovers fans’ exclusion from Leicester’s fans fixture ticket pricing, or even if you’ve pretended you’re boycotting the game but are actually getting some Christmas shopping done, fear not. Viva Rovers will be in attendance at the Walkers Stadium and phone signal and battery permitting will be reporting live throughout the game via our Twitter feed. We’ll be bringing Rovers fans live match updates in 140 characters or less so if you’re a twitter user follow @vivarovers and look out for the #drfc hashtag. Even if you aren’t a ‘tweeter’ you can still follow the match progress with us at twitter.com/vivarovers
Live commentary of the game is as ever available (for a fee) through the official club website’s Rovers Player service with commentary from Chris Mortley. Alternatively you can also follow the regular updates from the BBC’s Live Text service where detail outweighs description with a ratio of about 19:1. If neither of those options suit you there will be updates on the airwaves from BBC Radio Sheffield or updates on television from the Beeb’s Score Interactive service though beware the Ghost of Sentences Undirected, otherwise known as Garth Crooks. Also this match is apparently being broadcast live in Scandinavia so have a rummage round the internet and you may find it being streamed live online.