Rovers return to action in the Npower League One this Saturday to play a resurgent Hartlepool United
Rovers' blushes were spared in the October 13th fixture at Victoria Park through the late combination of a David Cotterill corner floated almost routinely on to the head of the always dangerous Rob Jones, providing an 89th minute equaliser. A Neil Austin penalty had given Pools a 70th minute lead in the game, leaving Rovers thankful for a point at the final whistle.
Hartlepool find themselves in the same league position as the October fixture going into Saturday's game lying in 22nd , but a glance at the form table over the last six games suggests that Hartlepool will be an altogether different obstacle this time round.
If the league standings were taken from the last six games then Hartlepool would be top of the league with four wins and two draws and are currently coming off a run of three straight victories in the league in a Jekyll and Hyde turnaround in league form. Hartlepool failed to record a win in twenty games across almost all of September to December in an unbearably baron run for the club.
Unbeaten through February, Hartlepool are playing in the equivalent of twelve cup finals with the looming six point gap to safety still to be bridged and should provide stiff opposition for Rovers who after the last round of fixtures are now looking to capitalise on a recently moving to the top of the league.
Rovers' solid form of late under Brian Flynn had put the club within a win of the automatic promotion places which duly arrived on Tuesday night away at Shrewsbury, continuing Rovers more than admirable away form this season.
Despite leaving it late yet again, the return to first team action of key players and the influx of loan signings appears to have given Rovers a timely lift for the heavy schedule of 7 games in 21 days from the Yeovil to Portsmouth fixtures. This was clearly in evidence on Tuesday night with the strong finish from Brian Flynn's side steering them to victory.
With the 11th best home record in the division, Rovers report card for games at the Keepmoat would probably read something on the lines of "could do better" in light of the clubs overall standing owing a lot to the away form. The inescapable issue for Rovers has been a lack of goals scored in front of the Donny home support with a scant 1.12 average goals scored in games at the Keepmoat which is only good enough for the 18th best total in the league.
Rovers will be hoping to put this right on Saturday against a Hartlepool side with the 3rd worst away defensive record in the league and win for the first time in three games at the Keepmoat in an attempt to start off a home stand going into the final five home games.
Hartlepool haven't travelled well this season but are unbeaten in the last four away trips with a win last time out against Scunthorpe United and will no doubt be lifted by the chance to get a result against a top of the league side. Saturday promises to be a typical battle of wills in a game where the league standings will count for very little.
In a history dating back to 1923/24 the two sides have met consistently playing in every decade up to the present, firstly in the old Third Division North (1924-1949) and then played sporadically in the former Fourth Division between the dates of 1959 to 1990. The two clubs then played in the football league Division Three from 1994 up to 1998 before playing in different divisions up until being reunited
in League One from 2004/5 up to 2008. Doncaster's 4 year spell in the Championship separated the clubs before Rovers subsequent relegation last season.
The respective records for each team in the fixture are very even across the 97 fixtures. Doncaster have won 36 to Pools 33 with 28 draws in total. Rovers’ biggest win came in 1989/90 season with a 6-0 win inspired by a Lee Turnbull Hat-Trick.
Hartlepool United's nickname the ‘monkey hangers’ is a reference to local folklore that claims residents of Hartlepool once hung a monkey thinking it was a French spy during the Napoleonic wars, the club have since adopted the nickname despite it being used as a taunt from travelling fans in the past.
Last Meeting – League – 13/10/2012
Hartlepool United - 1 (Austin pen 70 mins)
Doncaster Rovers - 1 (Jones 90 mins)
Click HERE for the match report
Hartlepool United – Scott Flinders, Neil Austin, Jack Baldwin, Peter Hartley, Darren Holden, Jonathan Franks, Antony Sweeney, Paul Murray, Evan Horwood, Ryan Noble, Steve Howard
Subs - James Poole (Horwood 36 mins) Charlie Wyke (Noble 58 mins) Ritchie Humphreys (Wyke 81 mins), Sam Collins, Simon Walton, Jordan Richards, Adam McHugh.
Rovers – Gary Woods, Paul Quinn, Shelton Martis, Rob Jones, Tommy Spurr, David Cotterill, James Harper, David Syers, Kyle Bennett, Billy Paynter, Chris Brown
Subs - Jordan Ball (Paynter 66 mins) James Husband (Martis 81 mins) Paul Keegan (Brown 86 mins) Martin Woods, Robbie Blake, Michael Woods, Neil Sullivan
Billy Paynter is available for the game after missing the victory over Shrewsbury Town midweek.
Paul Keegan has a slight strain on the same that leg he had suffered a deadleg on in previous weeks and will be unavailable.
Martin Woods is still not available and Chris Brown’s progress is positive and he will hopefully re-join training soon.
Rovers Player Previews
Watch Brian Flynn’s pre-match press conference from Cantley Park HERE
Watch James Husband’s pre-match interview from Cantley Park HERE
Frosty to start with some mist patches possible. Some good sunny spells should develop through the day, though it may become cloudier again later.
Delays at the Lakeside Shopping Village roundabout due to ongoing roadworks. Access to the stadium via the Middlebank roundabout.
Live and exclusive coverage of Doncaster Rovers v Hartlepool United at Keepmoat Stadium on Saturday 2nd March 2013 will be available on Rovers Player from 2.45pm. Contact the commentary team via our official Twitter feed @drfc_official throughout the afternoon.