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Sunderland (H) match preview

22 October 2018

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Rovers look set for one of their toughest tests of the season so far when they host Sunderland at the Keepmoat Stadium in Sky Bet League One on Tuesday night.

The clash with Sunderland is an all-top six clash, with Rovers in sixth, three places below their visitors in third in the League One table.

Rovers will be looking to better Saturday’s 3-3 draw at home to Gillingham, whilst Sunderland remain on the road following their 2-0 victory away at Shrewsbury Town over the weekend.

Brief history of Sunderland AFC

Sunderland play at the 49,000-capacity Stadium of Light stadium, which has been their home since 1997 following their move from their former home, Roker Park.

They are nicknamed the Black Cats, with a number of different reasons for this nickname. One is that Sunderland players were pictured with black cats outside of Roker Park in the early 1900’s, with another reason being that a supporter called Billy Morris took a black cat in his top pocket to their 1937 FA Cup final victory.

The 1937 win in the FA Cup was their first ever success in that tournament, going on to win it just once more in 1973. The Black Cats have been promoted into English football’s top division six times, winning the league for five of those promotions, with the last coming in 2007 under the stewardship of Roy Keane.

Sunderland entered League One ahead of this season following their relegation from the Championship, finishing bottom. This came after their relegation from the Premier League the season before, also finishing bottom, meaning that for the first time in 31 years, the Black Cats would be playing third tier football.

Who’s the gaffer?

Jack Ross is the man tasked with getting Sunderland back into the Championship at the first attempt, having taken the reins at the Stadium of Light over the summer.

Ross previously spent two years in charge of Scottish side St Mirren, leading them back to the Scottish Premiership last season after winning the Championship title emphatically, and winning the PFA Scotland Manager of the Year in the process.

So far, Ross has overseen 16 games in charge of the Black Cats, winning eight of those, drawing six and losing just two, leaving him with a current win percentage of 50 per cent.

Ones to watch

Josh Maja

The young forward is one of League One’s hottest prospects this season, and, alongside John Marquis, leads the way in the division’s goal-scoring charts so far. Maja signed for the Black Cats academy from Fulham in 2015 before making his debut for the first team the following year against Queens Park Rangers in the EFL Cup. He scored his first goal in a Sunderland shirt in a 1-0 win over his former club Fulham in December 2017 and has nine goals in League One from his opening 13 games.

Lynden Gooch

The USA international joined Rovers on loan from the Black Cats back in 2016. Gooch moved to England in 2012 to join Sunderland from hometown club Santa Cruz Breakers, briefly spending time on loan at Gateshead in 2015. He joined Rovers temporarily the following year, making 10 appearances in League One. In August that same year, Gooch would go on to make his Premier League debut for the Black Cats, starting the game against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium, and made his debut for his country in October 2016 against New Zealand.

Lee Cattermole

The former England under-21 international is in his tenth season on Wearside having joined from Wigan Athletic in 2009. Cattermole has been a mainstay in the Black Cats side over recent years, often being found wearing the captain’s armband, and he has now made well over 200 appearances for the club. Cattermole was also a part of the England under-21 side that reached the final of the UEFA European Championships in 2009, where they were defeated 4-0 by Germany. Cattermole has scored six times for the Black Cats, doubling his tally this season alone after three goals in his first 10 games.

Who’s the ref?

Jeremy Simpson will be the man in the middle when the two sides meet on Tuesday evening. He has taken charge of 14 games in league and cup competitions so far, dishing out 58 yellow cards and brandishing four red cards.

His last game in charge of Rovers came in January 2017 when he officiated the 3-1 win at home to Portsmouth in League Two at the Keepmoat Stadium, and his last game involving Sunderland came on the final day of last season in their 3-0 victory over Championship champions Wolverhampton Wanderers in May.

He will by joined be assistant referees Nick Hopton and James Wilson, with Simon Mather named as the fourth official.

Last time out

Rovers faced a Sunderland under-23 side in the Checkatrade Trophy group stages last season, winning 1-0 with Issam Ben Khemis’ solitary strike enough for three points in Group H in October 2017.

Prior to that, a pre-season friendly back in July 2015 at the Keepmoat Stadium would see Rovers run out 2-0 victors over their then-Premier League opponents, with goals from Harry Forrester and Cedric Evina seeing Rovers pick up the win against a strong Black Cats’ outfit.

Tickets for Rovers' next Sky Bet League One game with fellow top-six side Sunderland on Tuesday October 23 are still available via the Club Doncaster Box Office - purchase yours now by either visiting in-store at the Keepmoat Stadium, by calling on 01302 762576, or online at

Please be advised that this game is an ALL-TICKET fixture for supporters. Supporters are advised to purchase tickets prior to the fixture from the Club Doncaster Box Office, please note you must have a previous booking history with the club if you wish to purchase tickets.

There will be no cash turnstiles in operation on the night of the game.

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