Rovers host Rams in 7:30 kick off at Keepmoat Stadium.
The penultimate home game of the campaign sees us welcome Derby County to the Keepmoat this Friday in what promises to be an exciting Easter period where events at the top and bottom of the Championship could be decided. The Rams are in the hunt for promotion to the Premier League while Rovers continue in the fight to seal second tier status for next season.
Both sides have won twice in the last five encounters in South Yorkshire but should Paul Dickov’s men make that three in six it would represent quite a scalp and a real morale boost ahead of the crucial game at Millwall on Monday.
When Derby visited South Yorkshire back in February 2009 they were in good form after a 3-1 derby victory over Nottingham Forest, Rovers weren’t in such good nick however after falling by the same scoreline at promotion chasing Swansea City but the sides were only separated by a single point in the Championship table ahead of kick off.
The game kicked off at a pace with Rovers pressing high up the pitch and the tempo of their passing was a real obstacle that Derby were struggling to deal with. Paul Heffernan was denied by Stephen Bywater as early as the seventh minute before the Rams custodian was at it again within moments, again denying the Irish frontman who did well to latch onto Martin Woods’ left wing cross.
Chances were at a premium despite Rovers territorial advantage as Derby strikers Rob Hulse and Chris Porter got little change out of Matt Mills and Sam Hird in a first half that was almost all about the home side.
However, just before the break the visitors were within a lick of paint of opening the scoring when Porter headed against the crossbar.
In the second half the Rams were to come out fighting and within five minutes got themselves into the lead and in some style. Robbie Savage proved he had plenty of footballing ability by curling home a delightful if undeserved opening goal, but this served as inspiration for a Rovers fightback.
It came just six minutes later when Heffernan finally got his reward, nodding home Mark Wilson’s cross confidently past a helpless Bywater. Rovers then thought they should have had a penalty when Heffernan was brought down in the box by Lewin Nyatanga but the referee, Russell Booth, thought otherwise.
Rovers were now swarming all over the visitors and their stout resistance was broken for a second time with just under 20 minutes to go. Brian Stock swung over a corner which was only half cleared and Wilson thumped a volley goalwards, the bounce deceived Bywater and the ball went into the corner of the net to give the home side a more than deserved lead.
Bywater was to spare the blushes of the visitors a little in the dying embers of the game as he again denied Heffernan who arguably deserved more than the solitary goal for his efforts. But the three points were deserved nevertheless and it extended Rover’s unbeaten home run to seven games.
Rovers: Sullivan, Chambers, Mills, Hird, Roberts, Spicer (Lockwood, 89), Stock, Coppinger (Price, 82), Wilson, Woods, Heffernan (Byfield, 86)
Rams: S Bywater, Connolly, Albrechtsen, McEveley, Nyatanga, Teale, Green (Sterjovski, 80), Davies, Savage, Hulse, Porter
Stats V Derby (H)
This weekend will see the 23rd game in all competitions between Rovers and The Rams and you can expect goals as none of the previous 22 matches have ended goalless.
The last ten games have resulted in 29 goals being scored - an average of 2.9 per game - so it promises to be an exciting one.
For the people who like a flutter it could be said there will be a winner on Friday as none of the previous 10 league games played between the sides in Doncaster have ended with the points being shared. The only draw between the sides was at Belle Vue in the League Cup in 2006, where the final score was 3-3, and Rovers went on to win on penalties.
The odds of former Rams striker Theo Robinson scoring against his former club for Rovers at anytime are 3/1 with Sky Bet.
Doncaster Rovers 3/1
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* Odds subject to change, correct as of 16/04/14
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