In the last couple of seasons, in the League at least, Rovers have had many an opportunity to smile with Derby County, particularly in visits to Pride Park. The home of Derby County also served as the venue for Doncaster’s return to the second tier in August 2008, and the atmosphere brought by that 1-0 away win remains one of the most fervent I’ve ever experienced in a travelling Doncastrian contingent. The following season Billy Sharp inspired Rovers to a 2-0 pre-Christmas win to continue his excellent scoring run and Rovers upward momentum. However, such are the circumstances of Doncaster’s current season, a win tonight could be seen as much more important than those previous visits.
Rovers travel to Derby tonight in 19th place, their lowest position in the Championship this season brought on by an unprecedented club injury crisis. Their hosts Derby County sit one place above, and 13 goals better off, in 18th. A win for either side will lift them a vital three places which will do wonders for putting minds at rest for a week or two at least. The good news for Doncaster fans of course is that in the past week Rovers have ceased feeling sorry for themselves, drained their drinks, stubbed out their fags and set to work. A creditable smash and grab point at Norwich has been followed up by a resolute home draw with Watford. Two points down, around 11 to go.
One man perhaps not smiling with Derby County so much at the moment is Nigel Clough. The Rams manager is (yet again) under pressure with County’s win at Sheffield United on Saturday their first victory since New Year’s Day, and only their second victory since November. Play-off contenders in the Autumn they have since slid down the table like a Cruise Liner breakfast on a stormy sea and been knocked out the FA Cup by Crawley. On a run such as that defeat to TheLikesOfDoncaster could well be the last straw.
Guess what. Rovers have loads of players out injured. Oh you knew. OK, well for the sake of consistency lets list the injured contingent once again. Neil Sullivan, Mustapha Dumbuya, James Chambers, James O’Connor, Adam Lockwood, Shelton Martis, Martin Woods, Ryan Burge, Jamie Coppinger, Ryan Mason, James Hayter and Steve Brooker all injured, and Waide Fairhurst out on loan.
Derby County are set to be without ex-Rover Gareth Roberts who has a shin injury, and James Bailey who is ruled out by a groin problem. Dean Leacock is also out, whilst Russell Anderson, though back in training, is probably not quite fit enough to be back in the starting line-up.
Predicted Doncaster Rovers line-up
(4-2-2-1-1) Gary Woods; Sam Hird, Wayne Thomas, George Friend, Joseph Mills; Paul Keegan, Brian Stock; John Oster, Franck Moussa; Jason Euell; Billy Sharp
subs: Jordan Bradshaw, Byron Webster, Dennis Souza, Matt Kilgallon, Simon Gillet, Mark Wilson, Dean Shiels
Travelling to the Game
If you’re driving to the game the M1 offers the most sensible starting point to head to Derby, leaving the motorway for the A52 at Junction 25. The ground is on this side of the city and is signposted after about seven miles on your left. Parking at the stadium is limited though you will, like the Keepmoat, find a few enterprising local businesses offering their car-park for a princely sum. Probably about £6.
Those of you heading to Derby on the train will be glad to know that the station is fairly close to Pride Park. Head out of the station’s east exit (not the main one) and turn right, then bear left at the roundabout. Follow this road and the stadium will come into view.
If you’ve decided that £31 is an extortionate price for football then don’t worry, Viva Rovers is here. Phone signal and battery permitting we will be reporting live throughout the game via our Twitter feed. You’ll be able to follow proceedings in bursts of 140 characters or less by following @vivarovers and looking out for the #drfc hashtag if you’re a Twitter user. 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 accessed through the red button.