At last, a chance to forget about the circus going on off the field around Doncaster Rovers, as it continues to divide fans’ opinions, and just watch some football. Because, whatever your misgivings about the ‘change in approach’ undertaken by the club in the last month (and we sure have plenty) you can always take solace in the fact that Mr McKay is unlikely to don a hooped shirt himself tomorrow.
So straight to the game itself then and one that Rovers, if they really are as desperate to remain in the Championship as recent rhetoric has signalled, should be winning. Coventry City are one of the sides, like ourselves of course, that had been tipped to struggle this season and much like Rovers are living up to that billing. The Sky Blues sit 21st in the table, two places and three points above ourselves, meaning that Doncaster really do need to notch a victory from this game if they are to breathe easily going into the season’s fourth month.
One boost to Rovers confidence will be the absence of Keiren Westwood on the City team-sheet. Prior to his summer move to Sunderland, the Irish goalkeeper had proved a near impenetrable barrier to the Rovers and it’s not far-fetched to say Westwood had denied this club at least seven points in the last three seasons. His replacement Joe Murphy is of course a talented ‘keeper in his own right, and a rumoured transfer target of Doncaster in the summer, but his presence brings fonder memories, particularly him getting cautioned for booting the ball at a celebrating Billy Sharp as Rovers swept to a 3-0 half-time lead against Scunthorpe on New Years’ Day. Ah, memories.
After a brief spike on the form graph in the eight days after Dean Saunders’ arrival at the club Rovers have returned to the form and luck that affected his predecessor, with three successive defeats at the hands of Leeds, Blackpool and Portsmouth. City’s run since the international break has brought them better fortune, though they were beaten at home by Burnley at the weekend, they’d defeated Nottingham Forest at the Ricoh Arena the weekend before and snatched a last minute draw at Elland Road the Tuesday in between. Whether Andy Thorn’s men will convert that slightly better form to confidence and subsequently a result remains to be seen.
John Oster has joined Rovers list of absentees as news broke this week that he will require surgery on a neck injury and will be out for some time as a result. The recent nature of Oster’s injury means that at least we know where he is, where as with the official club website not offering any injury updates in six weeks we have to take a guess at the rest of the absentees. Along with Oster Rovers have a further five players definitely out injured; Gary Woods, James Chambers, Tommy Spurr, Chris Brown and Martin Woods. The latter two have returned to training this week, but are unlikely to feature in this fixture.
On the presumed injured list – as they were injured last time the club deigned to offer us any information on them – are Adam Lockwood, Shelton Martis and James O’Connor. Mark Wilson this afternoon moved to Walsall on loan according to Radio Sheffield, leaving the following on the missing in action, possibly injured, possibly eloped list; Mustapha Dumbuya, Tom Baxendale, Paul Keegan, and Rachid Bouhenna. Young defender Oscar Radford is out on loan at Matlock Town (something we learned from The Non League Paper rather than any Rovers related outlet).
Coventry City are hopeful that their squad will be boosted by the return of Martin Cranie and Gary McSheffrey, who is much smaller than he looks. Defender Cranie has been unavailable lately due to cracked ribs, while McSheffrey has been sidelined by a back problem.
Predicted Doncaster Rovers line-up
(4-4-2) Neil Sullivan; Pascal Chimbonda, Sam Hird, George Friend Herita Ilunga; Jamie Coppinger, Simon Gillett, Brian Stock, Kyle Bennett; James Hayter, Billy Sharp
subs: Jonathan Maxsted, Richard Naylor, Shelton Martis, Giles Barnes, Ryan Mason,
Travelling to the Keepmoat Stadium
Given that this fixture has often been a midweek affair in recent years there’s a chance many Coventry City supporters will be making their first visit to the Keepmoat Stadium at the weekend. Those on their inaugural trip to DN4 can find all they need to know via the ‘Keepmoat Stadium’ tab at the very top of the page. Details listed include where to pick your tickets up, how to get to the ground on foot, and a couple of local pub suggestions.
We’re back, reffing supporters’ football, flogging fanzines, and attending matches. So, battery and reception depending expect updates on this game via our twitter feed. Follow @vivarovers for in-game 140 character or less despatches from the Keepmoat and look out for the #drfc
Supporters’ Team Action
If you can’t wait until the afternoon to witness the red and white hoops against the sky blues then you’re in luck. Doncaster Rovers supporters’ team the Donny R’sonists are in action against their compatriots the Coventry City Supporters FC ahead of the afternoon’s main game. The two sides meet at the Ian Wilson Community Sports Village in Rossington (formerly Rossington Comprehensive) in a 10:30am kick-off.
Fanzine on Sale
Issue 54 of the long-running Doncaster Rovers fanzine Popular STAND is on sale ahead of this Saturday’s game. As it has done throughout its thirteen years in existence it still costs just £1 and will be available at points outside the ground from 1:30pm up to kick-off. More details on where you can pick up a copy are available on the Popular STAND website.