Lately I have found myself uttering those three little words that so many people long to hear. Three words that bring comfort, affection, reassurance and above all pleasure. Several times in the past week or so I have looked directly into the eye of someone I know and care for and said “we’ll be OK”. Nine points above the relegation places with seven games to go. Surely we’ll be OK. I would love to say I am sure of this fact, but the fact that of late I have taken to saying these words out loud rather than just satisfyingly thinking them points to an element of uncertainty that I just can’t escape.
It all could have been so different too. Other results in the early part of the season meant that we could look at the 4-0 defeat suffered at Leckwith when we last met Cardiff as an anomaly. We had just played them on the worst possible day; the day the Welsh capital had turned to giddy schoolgirls and gone weak at the knees for Craig Bellamy’s homecoming. Inspired by the presence of the then Welsh captain and the expectant extra thousands in the stands Cardiff pulled us apart in the second half, so we kindly fulfilled our role as Washington Generals to Bellamy’s Globetrotters before getting out of there and on with the season.
But as the days got shorter and colder other heavy defeats came our way; 5-1 at Leicester, 5-0 at Wolves, 3-0 at home to Reading, 6-0 against Ipswich, 5-2 at Leeds. Even in our novice Championship season, when we spent four months anchored at the foot of the table, Rovers defence was not this vulnerable. But in that first season we had for the most part the one key thing that has been denied us this season; the luxury of a settled team. There is no doubt the injuries that have plagued Rovers this season have been a contributory factor in results, but as the players return so too must the points. The defeats against QPR and Bristol City may have been marginal, but so too could be the difference between staying up and going down.
By contrast Cardiff’s season is going much more favourably; after doubt over their chances of seeing out the season in the summer The Bluebirds are now firmly in the mix of those clubs chasing promotion to the Premier League . As such all should be cheery in the Welsh capital, but alas oddly it is not. Reaching the play-off final last season, coupled with the acquisition of Bellamy has many City fans believing that promotion should be an inevitability, not a possibility. And so draws, no matter how achieved, are treated as dropped points and duly picked up and used as ammunition against manager Dave Jones. If it’s a perplexing situation for the outsider, just imagine how much more frustrating it is for the sound-minded Cardiff fan.
Rovers injury concerns may not be what they once more but there are still several key first team players unavailable to Sean O’Driscoll. Top-scorer Billy Sharp is out for the rest of the season, whilst defender James O’Connor is unlikely to feature despite returning to training this week. Other absentees include Adam Lockwood, Wayne Thomas, and Martin Woods. Despite limping off at Ashton Gate last week captain Brian Stock is expected to return to the side.
Cardiff will be without forward Michael Chopra who remains sidelined with a hamstring tear, and are also likely to line-up minus Goalkeeper Tom Heaton who has a groin injury. Jason Brown, rumoured loan target of Rovers before agreeing to join The Bluebirds, is likely to deputise in goal.
Predicted Doncaster Rovers Line-up
(4-3-2-1) Gary Woods; Mustapha Dumbuya, Shelton Martis, George Friend, Joseph Mills; Bian Stock, Simon Gillett, John Oster; Jamie Coppinger, Franck Moussa; James Hayter
subs: Neil Sullivan, Sam Hird, James Chambers, Mark Wilson, Ryan Mason, Dean Shiels, Jason Euell
Travelling to the Game
This match represents Cardiff City’s third visit to the Keepmoat Stadium, so most Bluebirds heading north for this game will have been to DN4 before. If however you are coming to the Stadium for the first time you can find all you need to know about the ground in our very own guide. Everything from how to get here 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.
Like Doncaster Rovers? Like to be kept up to date with their matches in bursts of 140 characters or less? If the answer to both these questions is yes then you’re in luck as Viva Rovers’ much heralded in-game twitter feed returns this afternoon. Phone signal depending (and the Keepmoat has been a mid-match reception black-hole of late) we will be updating you on the match and Geoff’s latest disappointments throughout the game. If you’re on Twitter follow @vivarovers for our take on the game, and. if you’re not a Twitter user fear not, you can still keep up with our reporting by refreshing the page at twitter.com/vivarovers.
If its proper live commentary you’re after then you’ll need the dulcet tones of the hardest working press officer in show-business, Chris Mortley, via the club’s own Rovers Player service, though you will need to subscribe and touch a lot of wood to receive it. If you’re in South Yorkshire or Wales expect updates on the match via BBC local radio. Alternatively online there are regular updates via BBC website’s Live Text service, though sadly for throw-in fans they no longer notify you each and every time the ball goes out of play. It’s a poorer service for it too. On the box the BBC’s Final score is accessible via the red button and with Cardiff pushing for promotion the game should at least get a token mention. It also you offers you the opportunity to play Garth Crooks Roulette, where you try and press mute each time Crooks goes to open his mouth.