Yeovil Town take on Doncaster Rovers at the Keepmoat Stadium tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon with both sides locked on level points just outside the playoff positions. The prize for the winners would be to move within one point of sixth placed Southend United, providing a good incentive for the long-standing rivals to try and pick up all three points.
Manager Russell Slade is certainly aware of the importance of the fixture, pointing out to the Western Morning News that the Glovers lie in more or less the same position that they did prior to last season's Christmas fixtures:
"Strangely enough, we were about eighth this time last season going into the Christmas period and we are in a very similar position now. We put together a very good run just before and just after Christmas last year and that took us into the top six. There is talk in the league and around it is that Doncaster look set for a top six place, yet here we are on the same number of points as them! We have started to get one or two players back and it is a good time of the season to hit some kind of momentum, we need to continue that and it's all about consistency. Getting points at Doncaster would stand us in good stead. It's a strange league because after the Bournemouth game, we won and found ourselves two points of the play-offs, we won again on Saturday and we are four points off it! I think the fact of the matter is that you look for that consistency and you keep plugging away trying to pick up as many points as you can. If you do that then before long, you find yourselves in the top six."
Part of the reason for the talk about Rovers is that they are currently in very promising form. After losing five of their opening nine League One matches this season, Donny are currently unbeaten in 10 matches - the only downside being that six of those matches have been drawn. The last side to take all three points off the Yorkshire side was Walsall on October 2nd, and so it is not hard to see why they have quietly risen up the league table.
That they've done that without the services of last season's top scorer Paul Heffernan is all the more creditable - the big target man has an ankle ligament injury and is not expected to return until early next year. Gordon Greer is also not expected to feature following a groin injury. Manager Sean O'Driscoll's selection dilemma is therefore whether to include defender Gareth Roberts and midfielder Jason Price in his squad. Roberts is back from a hernia problem after missing the past month, whilst Price has been struggling with a back injury.
For the Glovers, team selection is complicated a touch by a couple of niggles along with a tonsil infection doing the rounds. On the plus side, the worst affected are not currently part of the starting line-up with Marc Bircham (hamstring) and Marvin Williams (ankle) finding their comebacks into Reserve Team football delayed this week, whilst midfielder Justin Cochrane who has also been suffering has been mainly on the bench lately.
The major doubts though centre around midfielder Darren Way, defender Matthew Rose and midfielder Lee Peltier, all of whom have had treatment this week. Russell explained the current situation:
"Darren Way has a bit of a thigh strain and he didn't do much training, so we will have to see how he is. Pelts (Lee Peltier) carries that ankle injury that he has had for a few weeks now, but he did train on Thursday and the rest seem OK. We have had a bit of a virus going round the camp, a bit of tonsillitis and that has kept Marvin and Bircham out of the reserve game. Our masseur also has tonsillitis and so does Justin Cochrane, so that has not helped one or two players. Matty Rose is coming along, but it might be a bit too early for him. He is wearing a very big brace and looks like the bionic man! It is still very tender and sensitive and if he falls or gets a bang on it then it affects him. But it is getting better and if he doesn't make this Saturday, then I think he will be in the mix for Orient."
If you are travelling up for tomorrow's game, firstly keep a close ear to any news of any pitch inspections for the match. Donny have covered their pitch in order to protect it from overnight frosts, but with sub-zero temperatures in Yorkshire this weekend, it is best to listen out for any news. There are no pitch inspections currently planned - if that situation changes, then we will put a news article up here.
Secondly, if you have not yet bought a ticket for the Keepmoat Stadium, bear in mind that at last year's match, Doncaster's Ticket Office appeared to be suffering from a distinct lack of throughput - the queues from the office were impressive to say the least, despite there being only a moderate crowd for the midweek game. Allow plenty of time if you are picking up a ticket on the day.
Link: Ciderspace Guide To Doncaster.
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