Matt Kilgallon once said that Doncaster Rovers were only worth watching if you like pretty football, and if you wanted to watch a winning team you should go and watch his current employers. As a mark of how things change in football today Kilgallon is set to take to the field in the red and white hoops of the team who play pretty football, having enthused on arrival about the reputation of Rovers as a club at which players can rediscover their talents. Hopefully the notion that if you want to watch a winning side you need to be viewing Killa’s current employers still rings true.
The loan signing of Kilgallon brings a welcome addition to what is arguably Rovers most vulnerable point. Whilst the footballing talents of Doncaster’s attack-minded players has never been in doubt, particularly with players such as James Hayter and Jamie Coppinger in what could well be considered the best form of their careers, its Rovers back-line which has caused issues this season. The reason for this is fitness rather than form. Not once this season has Sean O’Driscoll had a full quota of defensive options to choose from, indeed even now with James Chambers and George Friend back from injury and Kilgallon arriving O’Driscoll still has three key defenders kicking their heels in the stands.
In the Championship all it takes to enable you to stop looking over your shoulder and start thinking about Blackpool, Burnley and Hull City is a decent run of results. The gap between the play-offs and the relegation spots is marginal, and a settled defence is believed by many to be the only real reason Rovers are not sitting in the former o those zones. The case for that argument could be made by highlighting the last match against today’s opponents Reading. At half-time at the Madejski Stadium Rovers led 3-1 and had risen to sixth place as the table stood. Forty-five minutes and three goals later Doncaster had been despatched 4-3 and sixth had become 16th.
Reading are of course one of those sides who have lived the dream, rubbed shoulders at the big celebrity party and then suffered a considerable hangover afterwards. After an unexpected relegation scare in the first half of last season The Biscuitmen, never The Royals on this site, have found their footing again under the management of Brian McDermott. His modest considered approach coupled with a penchant for a telling tactical substitution ahs lifted Reading to 8th place in the Championship and seen West Bromwich Albion dispatched from the FA Cup in straight forward fashion.
Rovers still have Black Country FA Cup opponents in their periphery of course with a replay at Molineux on Tuesday night perhaps sparkling keener than a league game with Reading. No disrespect intended to Reading of course, its not the opponents’ reputation that is likely to leave Rovers fans unenthused by this fixture, more Doncaster’s record against their fellow hoop wearers. A single point is all Rovers have gleaned in five Championship meetings with Reading, and indeed they haven’t triumphed over The Biscuitmen since September 1982. The score on that afternoon at Belle Vue? Just a routine 7-5 home win. Triumphant and entertaining, a repeat today probably wouldn’t be to the liking of one M. Kilgallon.
Rovers have five players unavailable for this fixture with Mustapha Dumbuya still out with a knee injury and centre-backs Shelton Martis and Wayne Thomas also sidelined. Brian Stock is still suffering the effects of Michal O’Connor’s off the ball New Year stamp, whilst Simon Gillett is also out with a reoccurence of his knee injury.
Dennis Souza is available for selection again having served a one match suspension for his sending off at Bramall Lane, but he is still unlikely to feature with Sam Hird and Adam Lockwood both available and new signing Matt Kilgallon also poised to make a first start. The midfield and attack should pick themself, it is just the defence where the question marks remain.
Reading’s main concern coming to the Keepmoat Stadium is the fitness of defender Zurab Khizanishvili who is doubtful owing to a knee strain. Club captain Ivar Ingimarsson is available to Brian McDermott after recently recovering from a long-term hamstring complaint and Shane Long is also likely to return to the side.
Predicted Doncaster Rovers line-up
(4-3-2-1) Neil Sullivan; James O’Connor, Matt Kilgallon, Adam Lockwood, Joseph Mills; John Oster, Mark Wilson, Dean Shiels; Jamie Coppinger, James Hayter; Billy Sharp
subs: Gary Woods, Byron Webster, James Chambers, Sam Hird, Martin Woods, Waide Fairhurst, Dean Shiels
Travelling to the Game
Reading have of course visited the Keepmoat Stadium twice before in the Championship, though admittedly their last game here in February saw most visiting supporters choosing to watch the game live on S*y Sp**s. Those who are travelling to the Keepmoat Stadium for the first time can find all they need to know about the ground in our very own guide. Everything from how to get to the stadium on foot or by car to where to have a pint or pick your tickets up is detailed under the ‘Keepmoat Stadium’ tab at the top of the page.
Four, count them. Four matches in a row this will be that your favourite ‘high brow’ Doncaster Rovers related website has brought you live match coverage via our Twitter feed. Throughout the match Viva Rovers will be providing updates on the match and everything that goes with it, from the crap spouted on the tannoy tp Geoff’s latest whinges all in 140 characters or less. If you’re on Twitter make sure you’re following @vivarovers and the #drfc hashtag. If you’re not a Twitter user you can still access the same match feed by going to twitter.com/vivarovers and refreshing the page during the game.
Live match commentary is provided by the hardest working press office in show business, Chris Mortley on the club’s own Rovers Player service, though you will need to subscribe receive it. If you’re not near a computer or a fancy mobile phone then you will be able to get regular updates courtesy of the formerly loved people at BBC Radio Sheffield. On the box the BBC’s Score Interactive service can be accessed via the red button, though it does take something of a nack to hit mute each time Garth Crooks opens his mouth.