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Match Previews

Preview: Walsall (H)

8 February 2013

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In form Walsall are in town this Saturday to face a wounded Rovers side on the hunt for a quick return to winning ways

The Saddlers who were beaten 3-0 at the Banks’s Stadium on the opening day of the season by a clinical Rovers side will be eager to maintain their recent run of good form and even up this season’s meetings between the two teams.

Goals from Chris Brown, David Cotterill and Kyle Bennett made light work of Walsall last time out but Rovers will be wary of a much improved opponent and keen to put last week’s loss to Bury out of their memory quickly with a positive outcome.

Both sides are entering the business end of the season very much in the playoff and promotion picture with Rovers still in an automatic place despite last weeks loss and Walsall climbing the table with an unerring promise, keeping tabs on the sides in the lower playoff places who they are still in touch with.

Rovers form in general leading into last Saturday at Gigg Lane was the best in the league over the last 6 games seeing them go unbeaten in 2013. Home form has coincided with the run to see Rovers take wins in the last two outings at the Keepmoat and still hold the 8th best home record in the league. 

Walsall’s record over the last 10 games has gone a long way in lifting the club away from the lower table dogfight of the last two years. Winning seven of the last 10 games with one draw has catapulted the Saddlers back up the table after a particularly baron patch through October and November when the club went winless in 13 league games. 

The Saddlers’ away from for the season is a moderate 15th best in the division with many of the latest wins coming at home however with a win last time out against Oldham and excellent recent form, the club are in confident mood and will be looking for a big scalp against Doncaster. 

Saturday promises a potentially high scoring and open game with two of League One’s highest scoring teams both scoring 43 total goals each this season. The difference in league position has come down to goal conceded where Rovers have excelled giving them a +16 goal difference compared to that of -3 for Walsall. 

Coming up to a month in charge for Brian Flynn on the 12th against MK Dons, Rovers are still sitting handsomely at joint top of the league with Tranmere after both sides dropped all three points last Saturday. With 6 points now the difference between 1st and 5th place, the top of the table has a very tight appearance although with a game in hand Rovers can go top of the league with a win or draw tomorrow. 

Walsall have played 31 games compared to Brentford and Sheffield United in 5th and 6th and can only look after their own results from now to the rest of the season if they want to break into the playoffs. With Assistant manager Dave Kelly leaving to join Billy Davies at Nottingham Forest and club legend club legend Jimmy Walker leaving his player/coaching role by mutual consent, Saddlers manager Dean Smith can only hope the lack of supporting voices and change in the dressing room atmosphere doesn’t hurt his sides’ preparation too much.

Previous History
Over an 88 year period the two clubs have met 55 times with an even record that has seen neither side take a particular stronghold over the fixture. The evenness of the ties has also been reflected in the games played post 2000 where Rovers have won three of the seven games with two Walsall wins and two draws. 

Playing at a similar level for most of the 80’s and 90’s decades the two teams were re-united in League One in 2004 after a ten year absence and with Doncaster’s tenure in the Championship had a four year gap before playing in August of 2012. 

At Home the Rovers have won 14 of their 27 games against Walsall losing seven and drawing six games with the last game in South Yorkshire coming in the 2007/08 season which saw Walsall come out on top in a 3-2 win in October.

The last time a season double was completed by either side was in the former Division Three in 1994/95 where it was again Walsall who recorded a 1-0 and 2-0 win. 

Interesting Fact
The highest transfer fee paid by Walsall in their history was £175,000 for Alan Buckley from Birmingham City which was way back in June 1979.

Last Meeting – League – 21/08/2012
Result – 
Doncaster Rovers – 3 (Brown, 5mins; Cotterill, 26mins; Bennett 56mins)
Walsall - 0

Teams – 
Rovers – Gary Woods, Paul Quinn, Rob Jones, Jamie McCombe, Tommy Spurr, David Cotterill, David Syers, Martin Woods, Kyle Bennett, Billy Paynter, Chris Brown.
(Subs) - James Harper (Paynter 61 mins), James Coppinger (Bennett 71 mins), James Husband, Jon Maxted.

Walsall – David Grof, Ben Purkiss, Andy Butler, Dean Holden, James Chambers, Jamie Paterson, Adam Chambers, Nicky Featherstone, Ashley Hemmings, Florent Cuvelier, Will Grigg,
(Subs) – Febien Brandy (Paterson 62 mins), James Baxendale (Hemmings 62 mins), George Bowerman (Brandy 68 mins),Jake Jones, Malvind Benning, Paul Downing, James Walker.

Team News
Midfielder David Syers is out for three weeks after suffering an ankle injury in the game against Bury.

Iain Hume is still unavailable and it now looks like the on loan striker will be out for around two weeks.

After a frosty start it will be a rather cloudy day with outbreaks of mainly light rain. 

Delays at the Lakeside Shopping Village roundabout due to ongoing roadworks. Access to the stadium via the Middlebank roundabout.

Rovers Player
Live and exclusive coverage of Doncaster Rovers v Walsall at Keepmoat Stadium on Saturday 9th February 2013 will be available on Rovers Player from 2.45pm. Contact the commentary team via our official Twitter feed @drfc_official throughout the afternoon. 

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