Rovers face their first of two away trips over the festive period on Boxing Day when they travel to face Fleetwood Town in Sky Bet League One.
Rovers could make it nine unbeaten in all competitions, having won six and drawn two of their last eight games, drawing 2-2 at home to Oxford United on Saturday in the latest game in that run.
Fleetwood on the other hand will be looking to avenge defeat to Bristol Rovers at the weekend as they lost 2-1 on the road, despite Ashley Hunter putting them ahead, with James Clarke’s 94th-minute winner seeing the Pirates take three points.
Brief history of Fleetwood Town
Fleetwood play at the 5,327-capacity Highbury Stadium, which has been the club’s home since 1934.
This current Fleetwood team is the third incarnation of the club, having twice reformed since they were first established in 1908, with the latest reformation coming in 1997.
Fleetwood reached the Football League for the first time in 2012, having won the Conference Premier title that year. Jamie Vardy top scored for the Cod Army in their title-winning season, grabbing 31 goals in the league which would then help him seal a move to Leicester City for £1 million, an amount that was a record fee paid for a non-league player.
The Cod Army were promoted to League One in May 2014 via the play-offs at Wembley Stadium, which would be their sixth promotion in 10 years, marking a meteoric rise from the North West Counties Football League First Division up to the third tier of England’s professional leagues.
Who’s the gaffer?
Joey Barton is the man in the visiting dugout, having been named as the Cod Army’s manager ahead of this season, taking up his first managerial position with Fleetwood.
Barton has taken charge of 30 games so far, winning 10, drawing eight and losing 12, leaving him with a win percentage of 33.33 per cent.
Ones to watch
The attacking player signed for the Cod Army in 2015 having impressed in non-league with Ilkeston. Hunter also counts Derby County, Aston Villa and Barnsley as his former clubs having been with all three during his youth career. Since his arrival at Highbury, he has gone on to become a key figure in the Cod Army’s side, making well over 150 appearances in a Fleetwood shirt. This season he has five goals in 24 games in all competitions, and he has become a focal point in Joey Barton’s side, leading the way alongside James Coppinger for assists in League One this term.
The Irishman signed for the Cod Army back in January and made an instant impact after scoring the winner just six minutes into his debut in a 2-1 victory away at Southend United. Madden is best known perhaps for his time with Yeovil Town during the 2012/13 season, where he scored 22 goals in 35 games in League One as he helped the Glovers to promotion alongside Rovers, via the play-offs, to the Championship. Madden joined Fleetwood from Scunthorpe United, where shortly before his departure from Glanford Park he would enter the top 10 in the all-time scoring records for the Iron.
The Doncaster-born stopper was given the number one jersey over the summer having established himself between the sticks at Highbury over the past couple seasons. Cairns began his career with Leeds United, although he failed to break through into the first team at Elland Road, instead spending time away on loan with non-league sides Barrow and Stalybridge Celtic. Brief stints with Chesterfield and Rotherham United followed, before he joined the Cod Army in July 2016, where he kept 34 clean sheets across his first two seasons with the club.
Who’s the ref?
Peter Wright will be the man in the middle when the two sides meet on Boxing Day. Wright has taken charge of 20 games in league and cup competitions this season, dishing out 53 yellow cards, whilst brandishing the red card on four occasions.
Wright last took charge of Rovers back in October in their 1-0 defeat away at Accrington Stanley in League One, and he has also been in charge of Fleetwood this term too, this time in the Checkatrade Trophy for their game with Leicester City U21s, with the young Foxes winning 7-6 on penalties after a 2-2 draw after 90 minutes.
Wright will be joined by assistant referees Nik Barnard and Gary Hilton, with Leigh Doughty being named as the fourth official.
Last time out
The last meeting between these two sides ended in a resounding win for the Cod Army, with the visitors showing their ruthless side in a 4-0 win at the Keepmoat Stadium back in October.
Ched Evans’ penalty after just four minutes put Barton’s men ahead, before James Wallace and Ashley Eastham made it 3-0 before the break. Ashley Hunter completed the scoring on 49 minutes to put the game beyond any doubt, and Rovers will be heading to Highbury looking for revenge.
Rovers haven’t won in three attempts as the visiting team against the Cod Army, winning two of the seven meetings between the sides, both at home, with February’s 3-0 win the last time Rovers tasted success over Fleetwood.
Get your Half Season Membership now – online at tickets.clubdoncaster.co.uk, at the Club Doncaster Box Office in person or via telephone 01302 762576.