Where do we even begin? There was little evident in Saturday’s game to suggest a revolutionary approach by Dean Saunders, with what extra impetus and excitement there was fuelled by the introduction of Billy Sharp, rather than the shiny new suit in the dugout. That is of course wholly understandable, given that Saunders had known his squad for little more than 24 hours, and the high chance that the side fielded was as much influenced by the immortal Mickey Walker, partnering Saunders in the dugout, as it was the new man.
So perhaps tonight we will begin to see a little more into the workings of Dean Saunders and what he hopes to bring to Rovers. The rumours suggesting additions to the squad in the form of Patrick Agyemang, Danny Shittu and El Hadj Djouf give something of an indication of a change in tactical direction, but given much of the press at the weekend was of a lifted mood in the squad, would the introduction of new faces so early undo that work? Getting a win with those you’ve known will cheer people up, watching new men come in and take a place you’d strived hard to make your own arguably less so.
As such Hull City tonight offers a much different prospect to that of Crystal Palace on a Saturday when excitement and unco-ordination were rife in DN4. City’s results this season suggest they are a hard side to break down, indeed Brett Pitman’s goal for Bristol City against the Tigers at Ashton Gate on Saturday was the first they had conceded in 345 minutes of football. With goals hitherto as familiar to Rovers as, well, as sacking managers they could need as much luck as they found at the weekend if they are to get a result.
Hull City’s record this season has made great reading for fans of Binary Code, with only a 4-1 defeat at Leeds puncturing a very digital looking record of 0-1, 1-0, 0-1, 1-0, 1-0, 1-0, 1-1. The Tigers’ run of four matches unbeaten has lifted them to seventh in the table, sitting outside the play-off positions only on goal difference.
Rovers remain without six players; Chris Brown, Adam Lockwood, Martin Woods, James Chambers, Mustapha Dumbuya and Tommy Spurr all out and unavailable with varying injuries. Though he put in more than half an hour on Saturday Billy Sharp will most likely start from the bench, with Dean Saunders admitting he took a risk with the forward on Saturday. By previous accounts Ryan Mason should be fit now, but whether he will make it into Saunders’ squad is another matter, and given Saturday’s victory the new man will most likely stick to the same line-up both on the field and on the bench.
Hull City’s major injury concern is midfielder Robert Koren, who has scored in the Tigers last two matches. Koren picked up a hamstring strain in Saturday’s match at Bristol City, but the BBC report that he’s expected to win the battle to be fit for this game. Paul McKenna however is less likely to make Nigel Pearson’s side, the hypnotic midfielder suffered a knock in the same match and will face a late fitness test this evening.
Predicted Doncaster Rovers line-up
(4-3-2-1) Neil Sullivan; James O’Connor, Richard Naylor, Shelton Martis, George Friend; John Oster, Simon Gillett, Brian Stock; Jamie Coppinger, James Hayter; John Parkin
subs: Gary Woods, Sam Hird, Kyle Bennett, Milan Lalkovic, Billy Sharp
Travelling to the Game
Hull City supporters will probably be familiar with the Keepmoat Stadium having visited either for last season’s match, or a Rugby League Challenge Cup semi-final in recent years. For those who are venturing to the Stadium for the first time though, you can find all you need to know via the ‘Keepmoat Stadium’ tab at the very top of the page. Details on there include where to pick your tickets up, how to get to the ground on foot, and a couple of local pub suggestions.
No live match coverage tonight from @vivarovers, as sadly I can’t afford to attend full-price matches at present. Expect updates from the usual places though; BBC Radio Sheffield and the BBC website being perhaps your best bet.