A battle of the roses takes place tonight at the Keepmoat Stadium as Doncaster Rovers host Dougie Freedman's Bolton Wanderers in the Sky Bet Championship.
It’s welcome home time again for Rovers on Tuesday night as the Trotters from the Reebok Stadium hotfoot their way from Lancashire to South Yorkshire. The season is coming to a close but there’s just no let up for any of the sides in the Championship with so much to play for, April will have seen six games played, four at home and two away by the conclusion of the month.
Bolton come to the Keepmoat still not assured of Championship survival so it’s crucial for both sides to take three points but there’s no doubt Dougie Freedman’s squad will know all about the Rovers threat as we currently sit third in the form table based on the last six games. There will be a matter of reversing recent fortunes against Bolton who have had the upper hand in the most recent meetings between the sides.
In early 2007 the visitors came over the Pennines for the FA Cup third round tie looking to avoid an upset as Sean O Driscoll’s Rovers side had gone 11 unbeaten at home since he took over in charge in September. Also with Rovers knocking out two Premier League sides in the League Cup a season earlier, Sam Allardyce would have to make sure his side were ready for a challenge.
However, the visitors made an almost perfect start by netting in the eighth minute, Kevin Davies cooly finished from an acute angle following good approach play by Stelios Giannakopoulos. A couple of minutes later the tricky Greek midfielder appealed for a penalty after he went down under the challenge of James O Connor but thankfully it was waved away by the referee.
Rovers almost got back into it within two minutes of that as Ian Walker somehow managed to save from Mark McCammon who headed goalwards. It had been a real whirlwind of an opening 15 minutes and it was certainly living up to expectations. Adam Lockwood was next to flash a header just wide of the goal before Andranik Teimourian forced Ben Smith into a wonderful diving save.
Smith was at it again to deny the Iranian midfielder who tried his luck from the edge of the box, but a fortuitous rebound saw the ball return to Teimourian and he slammed home the second goal of the game. It knocked Rover’s confidence somewhat and Idal Tal made it three goals for the visitors with just over 30 minutes gone.
Early in the second half Teimourian netted his second of the game in some style after sidestepping the challenge of O Cnnnor before cooly slotting home to effectively kill off the tie. Although the visitors did deserve the victory it was somewhat cruel on Rovers who certainly matched the workrate of the visitors if not quite being able to match the ability of the Wanderers side who had no less than eight intenationals in their starting line up.
Stats Bolton (H)
Rovers go into the game looking to extend their unbeaten home record which stretches back seven games. Both sides have won twice in Doncaster with one game finishing in a draw. Wanderers have the upper hand overall though in the head to head record by virtue of six victories to Rover’s three.
Rovers and Wanderers have averaged over a goal per game in South Yorkshire.
Goal filled games between the two sides have taken place at Rover’s home, with the respective sides highest victories over their opponents coming in Doncaster.
Rovers won by 3-0 in 86/87 with Wanderers highest victory being their FA Cup win in early 2007.
It will be the first time the sides have ever met in April.
All the victories for either side have come with a clean sheet on all but one occasion, so there is arguably another reason for Rovers to get their noses in front on Tuesday night as early as possible.
Football League Sponsors Sky Bet have Rovers to be drawing at half time and win priced at 6/1.
Doncaster Rovers 21/10
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* Odds subject to change, correct as of 08/04/14
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