OK, it’s no Molin-me Molineux, but at least take a minute to enjoy our second best match preview title of 2011. The day of the season’s third South Yorkshire derby has arrived, meaning tha’ll not get owt for nowt at the Keepmoat Stadium t’neet. Both teams are edging towards the wrong end of the Championship table at present, meaning both clubs could do with victory in this game, for both peace of mind, and what media outlets refer to as ‘bragging rights’ round the pit-head masts of the Dearne Valley.
Even for Doncastrians its easy to mock Barnsley as being a Northern back water of pipe-smoking flat-cap wearers, I know this, as I’ll go on to do so a few times within this preview. However, could there perhaps be a tinge of jealousy as to what their town and their team has achieved in recent years? They’ve sampled the Premier League, albeit for a season, and they’ve seen their town on the silver-screen in Kes and Brassed Off. Their town also spawned Michael Parkinson, Brian Glover and Harold ‘Dickie’ Bird… So no. We can definitely rule out jealousy.
Historically the head to head record between the two clubs is about even; 22 wins for Rovers, 21 for The Tykes. Despite their geographical proximity Doncaster and Barnsley spent quarter of a century apart football-wise until Rovers promotion to League One in 2004. During two seasons from 2004-2006 Rovers triumphed in all five meetings between the two clubs (four league and one Football League Trophy game) with an incredible 16-2 aggregate score, despite Barnsley winning promotion in the second of those seasons. Since hostilities were renewed in the second tier however the boot has been on the other foot; Doncaster’s 1-0 win at Oakwell in April, the only time in four fixtures they haven’t suffered defeat.
If Rovers are to secure their first win over Barnsley in the Keepmoat, then tonight offers the most likely opportunity thus far given that The Tykes will be bringing the second worst away record in the Championship with them along the A635. Mark Robins’ side have notched just nine points on the road thus far this season and to cap that they’re currently on a poor run with only one win in seven games. Not that Rovers own record is a whole lot better mind, the 3-0 victory over Scunthorpe on New Years’ Day currently the side’s only victory in 2011.
As reflected at Portman Road on Saturday Rovers also have a habit of undoing their good work in the second halves of fixtures. Indeed as this very site illustrated at the weekend, if Rovers could maintain their first half prowess after the interval then they would currently be sitting third in the Championship and not 15th. Just behind Doncaster in both the actual table and our half-time Championship are Barnsley, meaning the Tykes too tend to switch-off at the break like the audience for Frankie Boyle’s Tramadol Nights. As such, should either of these sides take the lead in the first forty-five minutes at the Keepmoat then it’s likely to be the opposition who’ll go in at half-time feeling the more confident.
The BBC report that Joseph Mills is unavailable owing to a shin injury, though the fact that his loan spell has actually ended is perhaps more of a stumbling block for his inclusion. Beyond Mills three actual Rovers defenders are also unavailable; Mustapha Dumbuya remains out with a knee injury and centre-backs Shelton Martis and Wayne Thomas are also still sidelined.
The midfield is likely to be without Brian Stock, still suffering the effects of Michal O’Connor’s off the ball New Year stamp, Simon Gillett through a knee injury and Martin Woods whose groin is giving him more trouble than John Leslie. The only possible change to the starting line-up from Portman Road would be the inclusion of Ryan Mason over Dean Shiels.
Barnsley’s main concern coming to the Keepmoat Stadium, aside from electricity and those freaky metallic boxes on wheels taking up the carriageways (come on, it’s a derby, we’re allowed one surely), is how to channel their attack without the talented Adam Hammill who has joined Wolves in the transfer window. The good news for Mark Robins though is that centre-back pairing Jason Shackell and Steve Foster are available again having served their respective suspensions for their red cards against Hull.
Predicted Doncaster Rovers line-up
(4-3-2-1) Neil Sullivan; James O’Connor, Adam Lockwood, Matt Kilgallon, James Chambers; John Oster, Mark Wilson, Dean Shiels; Jamie Coppinger, James Hayter; Billy Sharp
subs: Gary Woods, George Friend, Sam Hird, Paul Keegan, Ryan Mason, Waide Fairhurst, Steve Brooker
Travelling to the Game
Barnsley folk will know where Doncaster is, and will be glad of an away tie that won’t tire out the pit ponies too much. It’s a work-night after all. 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 horse and cart, to where to have a pint or pick your tickets up is detailed under the ‘Keepmoat Stadium’ tab at the top of the page.
Having quite frankly spoiled you rotten with our live match Twitter coverage for the first five games of the season we are sadly continuing our down-time for this fixture. Work commitments mean we’re unable to make it to the Keepmoat, but we will tweet updates where we can for those in a similar predicament. If you’re on Twitter follow @vivarovers and the #drfc hashtag. If you’re not a Twitter user you can still access the same feed by going to twitter.com/vivarovers and refreshing the page during the game.
Live match commentary is provided online by the hardest working press office in show-business, Chris Mortley via the club’s own Rovers Player service, though you will need to subscribe receive it. For those in South Yorkshire live coverage will also be broadcast on Radio Sheffield, whilst those further afield will have to make do with the BBC website’s Live Text service, or for a greater risk of a heart attack; teletext.