DONCASTER Rovers break new ground today when taking on Crawley Town for the first time in their history.
The Sussex side emulated Rovers’ feat of back-to-back promotions from the Conference to the third tier of English football last season and are tipped to do well in League One.
Rovers boss Dean Saunders, who handed promising defender James Husband a new contract yesterday, told The Star that he is expecting a tough game - not least because Crawley lost 3-0 at Swindon in midweek after winning their opener at the weekend.
“That result will probably make it harder for us to beat them because they’ll be looking to bounce straight back,” he said.
He added: “I saw them play Brighton in a pre-season game and they battered them for most of the first half and led 2-0 until conceding two goals just before half-time in a 2-2 draw.
“I came away thinking that they looked a good team and would have a chance of doing well in League One. They’ve had a couple of recent promotions and they’ve got a winning formula a bit like Southampton, who have gone from League One to the Premier League.
“Once you get a winning formula, and you get harmony in your squad and everyone knows their job, then you can continue to move forward.”
Saunders’ respect for the visitors is mirrored by Crawley manager Richie Barker when assessing Rovers.
“I think they are one of the favourites to go straight back up again,” said the recently-appointed Barker.
“They have signed some good players, some experienced players, and some strong players over the last few weeks so it is going to be another test for us.
“Having signed players like Billy Paynter, Rob Jones from Sheffield Wednesday and McCombe from Huddersfield, who are all good players and who have been around a little bit, you would expect them to be there or thereabouts.”
Husband, meanwhile, has signed a new deal which will keep him with Rovers until 2015.