Off we go again, on the road following a successful four game stretch at home. It feels like ages ago we were giving Colchester and Hartlepool their respective hidings, but the confidence of those trips should still be fresh in the mind.
Now comes the real test; a journey to the fancy leisure centre that is the Keepmoat Stadium to face high-flying Doncaster Rovers.
How are they getting on?
A little too well for my liking, bearing in mind where we’ve both come from in the last 12 months. They’re 2nd in the table with a healthy 40 point haul, following four wins out of five. That leaves them a whole 13 points ahead of us. Mind you, the first two months of our season don’t really count when you take into account the wallies we had running the show back then.
As is customary when choosing statistics, I like to look back at things which make us look better – in this case the form since beginning of October – where the gap isn’t anywhere near as distant between the two teams. Doncaster have 26 points compared to our 21, although they have played an extra game.
That not only shows that things are going well for both clubs (on the pitch at least), but also makes me feel far better about our chances than I would have if this game was being played three months ago.
Who could cause us trouble?
David Cotterill is the name that immediately stands out. He was a very good player at Championship level, and is showing his elevated ability this year with 8 goals so far.
Another name you’ll be familiar with is Billy Paynter, the former Leeds and Swindon striker who had a memorable season for the Robins back in 09/10 with 26 goals. Things haven’t quite kicked on for him since then, and he’s not been seen in the Donny team for a couple of weeks, but I see nothing to suggest why he’s not available. If any Rovers fans can shed some light on this, do let me know.
Kyle Bennett is a small so-n-so, but is very tricky, and I seem to recall him having an impressive game in the 1-1 draw at the Keepmoat last season. This leads me to believe he could do the same again. Logic.
You may also remember a certain Sammy Clingan scoring a stunner in that game, in a campaign full of frustration for him and us alike. He soon buggered off as we were relegated in search of something better… then when nothing came up he decided to join the Doncaster bench. I imagine he’ll get a pretty hostile reception from our fans, although I’ll never understand the level of grief that was aimed at him. I’ll probably just look at him intently from afar, as I do with all opposing players.
Sky Blues team news
The main news for the Sky Blues is the lack of Carl Baker, who’s been in supreme goalscoring form over the last month. He decided to get a sloppy 5th booking of the season in the previous game, and the more cynical among us might suggest he did that purposely to allow him some time to Christmas shop, but I couldn’t possibly comment.
Robins has a key decision to make here. He’s keen not to disrupt the dynamics of the team, so the ideal would be a straight swap for Baker on the right-hand side. Unfortunately, we don’t have his evil twin Snarl Baker available to us, so Adam Barton seems the only likely candidate for a direct role replacement.
However, he does have other options. He could bring in John Fleck to play on the right, or swap him over with Moussa if he’s not sure he can be trusted on his wrong side.
Another possible alternative is to drop McSheffrey back to the left, moving Moussa to the right and then throw a striker up front with McGoldrick. To be honest, that feels a little excessive for Robin’s liking, although it’d certainly show his bold intentions if he did.
However, my money’s on a straight swap on the right – I just can’t see him wanting to disrupt things too much, especially the McGoldrick/McSheffrey partnership.
This is a real test of how far we’ve come. Doncaster are on a terrific run of form, and are clearly one of the strongest teams in the league. But we’re not doing too badly ourselves. Things are looking up, and I reckon we’ll be on the look out for the win just as much as they are.
Unfortunately, I think we might just fall a little short of that. Let’s say 1-1.