Living up to the notion that he’s raised the mood throughout Doncaster Rovers and brought a smile to everyone’s face at the club, Dean Saunders continues his feel-good approach by taking the club to the seaside today. Little Kyle Bennett has packed his bucket and spade, Billy Sharp and John Oster have their sights firmly set on the arcades, whilst Jon Parkin zeros in on a Rock Emporium. A tenuous opening I know, but at least I didn’t make links to Friday night’s game and donkeys on the beach.
Rovers have indeed descended on the Lancastrian coast, travelling up yesterday in fact, in the hope of quickly exorcising any memory or trace of Friday’s woeful showing in the derby that isn’t really a derby. Blackpool too went down to a disappointing defeat at the weekend, losing 4-0 at Upton Park, but Bloomfield Road remains as tough a place to go as ever regardless of recent results. It’s a place Rovers have often come unstuck before and will be a difficult proposition for Saunders.
How the manager approaches it will be interesting enough. The flat midfield four with John Oster stationed on the left has not really worked in the two games it has been deployed, leaving Rovers open to attacks down the right hand-side owing to an understandable lack of width. As such, if Saunders is to stick to the same line-up then we should surely expect a change in personnel. However, a reversion back to the 4-3-2-1 come 4-3-3 deployed in his opening two games is perhaps just as likely, particularly in view of the encouraging praise he had for James Hayter’s late cameo on Friday.
Rovers look set to be without James O’Connor, the full-back having reportedly picked up a foot injury during Friday night’s slump against Leeds. O’Connor’s absence will likely pave the way for Pascal Chimbonda’s debut, the defender having been an unused substitute in the last game. Ryan Mason is a doubt with a stomach bug, and there is no news on whether Shelton Martis will return after missing Friday’s game with an injury. Dean Saunders’ post-match comments at the weekend suggest there could be a starting birth for James Hayter, something which would likely necessitate a change in the flat 4-4-2 Doncaster have employed in their last two fixtures..
Blackpool are likely to make changes to their line-up having crashed 4-0 to West Ham at the weekend. Manager Ian Holloway will have two additional option to choose from too with defender Craig Cathcart expected to come back into the fold after missing the trip to Upton Park with a knee injury, and Callum McManaman also added to the Seasiders’ squad having joined on loan from Wigan yesterday.
Predicted Doncaster Rovers line-up
(4-3-2-1) Chris Kirkland, Pascal Chimbonda, Richard Naylor, George Friend, Herita Ilunga; John Oster, Simon Gillett, Brian Stock; Kyle Bennett, James Hayter; Billy Sharp
subs: Neil Sullivan, Sam Hird, Mark Wilson, Jamie Coppinger, Jon Parkin
Travelling to the Game
Their brief forray into the Premier League has ensured Blackpool have updated the facilities at Bloomfield Road a little since our last visit. No longer will the wind, that two seasons ago took the hat of the fella sat next to me off down Central Drive, whip across your heads. There’s now a roof on the temporary stand of the Eastside in which Rovers fans will be held, they’ve even bunged in a few extra seats too.
If you’re braving the evening traffic you need to leave the M6 at junction 32 and take the M55 into Blackpool which becomes Yeadon Way and then Seasiders Way before eventually passing the ground on your right. There are large pay and display car parks located across the road though you may strike it lucky with a free on-street spot along nearby roads. Those travelling by train will most likely arrive at Blackpool North station from which the simplest route to the ground is taken by the number 11 bus which passes the end of Bloomfield Road en route to Lytham St Annes.
For those willing to walk from Blackpool North it is around a twenty-five minute journey to the ground on foot. Turn left as you leave the station then right then left onto Cookson Street, which you follow to the end. Here turn left then right onto Park Road which you need to follow for about half a mile before turning right into Ashton Road. At the end of Ashton Road cross over Grasmere Road then turn left onto Central Drive; Bloomfield Road is the fourth right. Being Blackpool there are amusements, bars and food outlets aplenty, each more gaudy than the last, on the seafront for those arriving early.
No live match coverage this week from @vivarovers, at least not of the Rovers. we’ll be taking our own advice and heading to Oxford Street to watch Rossington Main in action instead (see below).
Alternate Local Games for Local People
Not off to Blackpool, but still wouldn’t mind taking in some live football? Fear not, there’s a couple of games on in Doncaster for you to take in between checking your phone for updates from Bloomfield Road. Firstly, in the Northern Counties East League Division One there’s a Doncastrian derby as Rossington Main host Hemsworth Miners Welfare at Oxford Street. And if you’re in the North East of the borough then Goole AFC are in action at the Victoria Pleasure Ground, they host Garforth Town in a Doodson Sport Cup 2nd round tie. Both matches kick-off at 7:45pm.