So, where are we now? Still 20th, still not strictly safe, but Friday’s and Saturday’s results did, on the whole, work out ok for Rovers and the fat lady has shuffled back into the wings for now at least. Victory at Oakwell today could give us the opportunity to boot her out of the stage door and into the alley, and whilst we’re no Marlon King, we’d find the opportunity to do so extremely satisfying.
“How was it?” I’ve been asked that a lot by people in the wake of Friday’s goalless draw, and my answer has been that in a football sense it was all it was cracked up to be. Two sides looking nervously over their shoulder rather than optimistically upwards, with a capability of finishing chances that illustrated exactly why they are where they are. The encouragement for Rovers is that they not only continued to create, but that they kept the opposition out.
What this leaves us with is three games left and the task remains the same; a win will pretty much guarantee Rovers place in the Championship for next season as those beneath run out of matches with which to close the gap. At this stage though it is worth reminding folk to not get ahead of ourselves; the current run of nine league games without a win is the club’s longest such run in the Championship.
The good news for Rovers however is that in Leicester, Middlesbrough and Barnsley today they come up against teams for whom the season is effectively over. “Already on the beach” is the phrase managers use, though knowing our luck we’ll still cannon shots off the body of Luke Steele as he lies in his six yard box with Steve Foster applying sun-cream to his back, before Jason Shackell breaks from his game of volleyball with Bobby Hassell to hoof the ball to safety.
As with Friday Rovers remain without the services of six players; defenders Adam Lockwood, James Chambers and Joseph Mills are all out injured as are Martin Woods and Paul Keegan and top-scorer Billy Sharp. In addition the BBC describe Mustapha Dumbuya as ‘touch and go’ after he was substituted in the second half of the match against Palace with a reoccurrence of his hamstring trouble.
Barnsley manager Mark Robins is expected to make changes to the side which lost 1-0 at Watford on Saturday, with Bobby Hassell and Reuban Noble-Lazarus both in contention for starts.
Predicted Rovers line-up:
(4-3-2-1) Gary Woods; Shelton Martis, Wayne Thomas, George Friend, James O’Connor; Brian Stock, Simon Gillett, John Oster; Jamie Coppinger, James Hayter; Jason Euell
subs: Neil Sullivan, Sam Hird, Matt Kilgallon, Mark Wilson, Ryan Mason, Dean Shiels, Franck Moussa
Travelling to the Game
It’s probably safe to assume most of you know where Barnsley is right? However, for those unsure where Oakwell can be found, follow the A635 into Barnsley following signs into the town centre. Oakwell Lane on the right hand side takes you from Doncaster Road to Pontefract Road where you’ll be able to see the round, alternatively follow the signposts for Oakwell.
If you’re going by train or bus, Oakwell is a ten minute walk away from the station and terminus. According to the excellent Football Ground Guide website turn left as you leave either, heading away from the town centre and go towards the bridge that the dual-carriageway runs over. Go under the bridge and turn left up the slip road and then take the first road on the right towards the Metro Dome. Oakwell is visible from here at the foot of the hill.
Viva Rovers much heralded live match Twitter feed will be present and (phone battery and reception permitting) will be bringing you updates throughout the match in 140 characters or less. If you’re on Twitter follow @vivarovers and look out for the #drfc hashtag 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
As it’s a South Yorkshire derby you can expect match commentary on BBC Radio Sheffield. For those beyond the country’s borders live coverage is also available via the club’s Rovers Player service, albeit for a fee. Alternatively you can keep up with the match online via the BBC’s ‘Live Text’ service and also on the box via the red button where you can access ‘Final Score’ throughout the afternoon… even when the scores aren’t final.