Rovers return to action this Saturday in the npower League One aiming to complete the double over relegation battling Portsmouth.
Portsmouth arrive at the Keepmoat with a new lease of life having moved off the bottom of the league after two wins in the last three games. The recent lift has been part of a run of better form over the last seven games, which has seen the club lose only twice. The two wins over Bury and Crewe Alexandra could not have come at a better time following a run of 22 games without a win in the league.
The financial problems and threat to the existence of the South Coast club have been well documented over the last few years and until recently Portsmouth were looking as though the off field issues at the club were likely to see them fall out of League One at the first time of asking.
Although performances and results have picked up slightly in recent weeks, the eight point gap to safety still looms large for Pompey who will need to take as many points as possible in the remaining eight games and are likely to be tough opposition on Saturday.
Rovers in stark contrast are sat three points clear of Sheffield United and importantly, four clear of third place Brentford who have played the same amount of games. Rovers are only looking forward according to manager Brian Flynn and are still firmly fixed on the League One Championship trophy, which is very much in Rovers hands with nine games to play.
The chance to go four home games unbeaten was delayed Tuesday night after the postponement of the Carlisle game. Rovers will look to extend their improving home form lifted by the midweek signing of Oldham captain Dean Furman announced Thursday morning.
Brian Flynn, who watched Portsmouth’s midweek loss to Leyton Orient, believes Rovers ability to grind down opponents will serve them well, despite the resilience and the notable dangers Portsmouth’s side possess in striker David Connolly.
Portsmouth are an unknown quantity from the side that lined up at Fratton Park in November with only five players surviving as the club have had to balance the books operating under severe financial difficulties, four of the players were unused substitutes in the game that finished 1-0 after a 26th minute Ian Hume goal separated the sides.
The game promises to be a classic end of season battle with a lot to play for with both teams in good form going into the tie. Rovers can improve their excellent record against the bottom of the league sides which has seen them drop points on two occasions against Bury and Hartlepool this season.
Over the thirteen games played between the two teams, Portsmouth have won on eight occasions seeing them dominate the fixture which has been played in the second, third and fourth tiers of English football. The first fixture was played in the 1978/9 season in the Fourth Division with Portsmouth winning 3-2 with Rovers managed by Stan Anderson who also took charge of the fixture the following season in Rovers first win.
After meeting for four seasons in five years leading up to 1982/3 in the Fourth and Third Divisions, the clubs did not meet again until 2010 in the Championship following Pompey’s demotion from the Premier League. Portsmouth won 3 of the 4 games played in the Championship which included two wins in the ill fated 2011/12 season for both clubs.
Peter Crouch has twice been Portsmouth’s most expensive player at the club. A club-record signing in 2008, thought to be around £11 million, Crouch had previously been Portsmouth's most expensive player as in 2001 where his £1.5 million fee was also a club record.
Gary Woods is available for selection after recovering from a thigh injury. Dean Furman goes straight into the squad after signing on loan from Oldham Athletic.
Last Meeting – League – 17/11/2012
Portsmouth - 0
Doncaster Rovers - 1 (Hume 24 mins)
Portsmouth – Mikkel Andersen, Mustapha Dumbuya, Gabor Gyepes, Lubomir Michalik, Carl Dickinson, Lee Williamson, Brian Howard, Darel Russell, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, Paul Benson, Izale McLeod.
Subs – Ashley Harris (Williamson 71 mins), Jack Compton (Dickinson 83 mins), Jon Harley, Liam Walker, Johnny Ertl, Adam Webster, Simon Eastwood
ROVERS – Gary Woods, Andy Griffin, Rob Jones, Tommy Spurr, James Husband, David Cotterill, James Harper, Paul Keegan, Martin Woods, Billy Paynter, Iain Hume.
Subs – Chris Brown (Paynter 75 mins), David Syers (Cotterill 82 mins), Shelton Martis (Hume 88 mins), Robbie Blake, Michael Woods, Jordan Ball, Jonathan Maxted.
Can't get to the Portsmouth game on Saturday? Well, you can listen to the whole match on Rovers Player free of charge!