Good news everyone. You know that woeful pile of League form that’s been accumulating in the corner since March. Yeah, that one, the big ugly horrible mass of defeats and draws. Well, today you can pick all of that up, that’s it, all of it, and sling it outside, no not through the door, through the window. That’s it, chuck the League form out the window, because it’s the League Cup.
One off game. Anything could happen. Recent form and reputation means nothing. Just a set of reassuring soundbites for Rovers fans ahead of what is kind of a busman’s holiday, in which we can forget seeing Doncaster Rovers listed next to the number 24 and instead watch them attempt to reach the League Cup third round instead. OK, we all know the Keepmoat crowd, and we know that won’t happen, especially against – favoured local rival of the young Rovers’ fan – Leeds United, but we can dream can’t we?
After Saturday’s loss against Derby County the online messageboards were (when I finally braved them two days later) awash with supporters suggesting that it was time for Sean O’Driscoll to go. Thankfully, Twitter has since reassured me that those suggesting the manager should SO’D off are in the minority, and with that in mind its possible to read the suggestions that his time is up with an air of amusement. For all those saying O’Driscoll should go, I have not found a single post from anyone nominating a suitable replacement. And the greatest entertainment was provided on the VSC Forum by a supporter who claimed to have been at the first game at Belle Vue (in 1922!), and yet “he’s never been so depressed”. Applications for re-election, Richardson and Weaver pulling the club apart to the point of almost folding, Tommy Wright’s performances, all fine… but losing the first four league games in the second tier really is the last straw. You have to laugh… it beats slapping your palm against your forehead several times a day.
Anyway, back to tonight and the visit of Leeds United, and the faux rivalry that surrounds it, should at least bring more people than expected into the Keepmoat and raise the atmosphere a little. Though we’ve long extended the point that there is no rivalry between Rovers and Leeds, they’re no Rotherham or Scunthorpe after all, the fact does remain that they are the one club in this division for whom we all know a supporter. A colleague, a class-mate, a member of your own family even, we all know a Leeds fan, and we all know how insufferable they can be in defeat, and it is that which makes these games, and victory in them, so eagerly anticipated.
It’s still to be determined how importantly Simon Grayson views the League Cup, and subsequently what sort of United team he will field. Sean O’Driscoll however, has no option to field his strongest available side as there simply aren’t enough players available to field anything else. What Rovers need, more than anything, is a win, something to get them out of the losing habit, and the confidence that will subsequently bring forward. Tonight offers a great opportunity to bring the sort of victory that can really lift a side, so hopefully the Doncastrian public have vented their grievances and whinges on the net, and come 7:45pm will give the side the support it so badly needs.
For once we are reasonably well versed on the club’s injury issues thanks to an uncharacteristic treatment room update from the club’s official website yesterday. The short of it is there are eleven Rovers players injured or on the way back from injury; add to that loanees Milan Lalkovic and Reece Brown who won’t feature so as not to be Cup-tied for their parent club and there could well be as many as thirteen players unavailable. However, that thankfully looks unlikely with the news that James O’Connor, Shelton Martis, Brian Stock and James Hayter have all now resumed full training. Jamie Coppinger remains touch and go with a calf strain which ruled him out of Saturday’s game. Adam Lockwood, Rachid Bouhenna, Martin Woods, Paul Keegan, Ryan Mason, and Billy Sharp however are all certain absentees.
Leeds United’s injury list is not quite as substantial as Rovers’ with Simon Grayson without the services of just four players. Michael Brown is likely to be rested owing to a calf strain according to the BBC, whilst Luciano Becchio, David Somma and Billy Paynter remain out with hamstring, knee and thigh problems respectively.
Predicted Rovers line-up:
(4-2-3-1) Gary Woods; Mustapha Dumbuya, Sam Hird, George Friend, Tommy Spurr; Simon Gillett, John Oster, Brian Stock; Kyle Bennett, Giles Barnes; Chris Brown
subs: Neil Sullivan, Richard Naylor, Oscar Radford, Mark Wilson, James Baxendale,
Travelling to the Game
Leeds United fans will know the Keepmoat Stadium well enough, what with it being the local ground of most of them, but if there are any Leeds fans heading to the Keepmoat Stadium for the first time they can find all they 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.
I’m refusing to accept defeat in the ongoing battle between my phone and the Keepmoat Stadium, so those who see patience as a virtue can choose to follow the match via the infamous Viva Rovers in-match twitter feed. All being well I will be tweeting updates live from the Keepmoat Stadium, bringing you all the action in 140 characters or less. To get these updates follow @vivarovers on Twitter and keep an eye out for the #drfc hashtag, or alternatively non-Twitter users can keep refreshing the page online at twitter.com/vivarovers.
For those of you who prefer your coverage more official the club’s Rovers Player service will be broadcasting full match coverage. Expect updates on the wireless via BBC Radio Sheffield and most likely BBC Radio Leeds as well if you’re the wrong side of the county border. Online, if you don’t want to trust our Twitter feed then the Beeb’s Live Text commentary is probably your best bet for keeping informed.