DONCASTER Rovers will be defending an unbeaten league record at Pride Park since they returned to the second-tier of the Football League, in tonight’s rearranged Championship clash against Derby County.
The Rams, forced to call off the Boxing Day game between the two sides because of a power failure, are on course for a double over Rovers following their 3-2 win at the Keepmoat Stadium in October.
Derby were on a good run of form at the time - they lost just one game in 10 around that period - and looked one of the best sides to have visited the Keepmoat this season.
But Rovers midfielder Mark Wilson claims there were mitigating circumstances for Rovers’ defeat.
“We were depleted by illness and injuries that night and we were missing nearly all of our back four,” he said “I think that factored in to why they looked better on the night.
“Even so I thought that we performed particularly well at times considering the players that we were missing, a few of whom went down with a bug at short notice.
“That was the first time that they had beaten us at home since we got into the Championship and no doubt they’ll be looking to beat us at home for the first time tonight.
“We’ve done well at Pride Park in the past but you can’t take anything for granted because of that. You could look at it another way and think that on the law of averages we are due a defeat there.
“I personally don’t take either view into consideration and I always look at things game by game. Whether you go into a game having won your last five or lost your last five, it is all on the day.
“We proved that by going to Norwich in our last away game on the back of some disappointing results and we came away with a point from a 1-1 draw.
“I don’t think many people gave us much of a chance of coming away with anything, so it was credit to the bunch of players that we’ve got at the club that we’ve come through what has been a very sticky period and go to Norwich, who have been on fire, and pick up a result.”
Rovers picked up another point against higher-placed opposition at the weekend, holding mid-table Watford to a 1-1 draw at the Keepmoat Stadium.
With striker Billy Sharp starting the game, and midfielder Simon Gillett an unused substitute, there is every reason for Rovers’ fans to believe that the worst is behind the club.
“We’ll go there like we did at Norwich with a game plan and we’ll be organised and hopefully we’ll come away with another good result from a game which is effectively a six-pointer,” said Wilson.
The Rams have endured a similar testing time since the turn of the year but will go into tonight’s game boosted by a 1-0 win against struggling Sheffield United on Saturday.
Although they lost big striker Rob Hulse to QPR in August, and Kris Commons to Celtic in January, the Rams still look to have a decent squad.
One of the stars of the Derby side has again been former Rovers’ favourite Paul Green whose move to Pride Park within days of helping the club beat Leeds at Wembley to secure their place in the Championship, had not brought about the success he hoped would be the case.
“You can look at squads and names but it doesn’t guarantee that you are going to play well as a team,” said Wilson. “Balance in a team is more important than names.”