DONCASTER Rovers and Reading, who meet at the Keepmoat Stadium tomorrow, have different priorities as the 2011-12 Championship season heads towards the business end of the campaign.
Whereas the battle against relegation remains the focus for Rovers, the Royals are well placed for a promotion bid.
“I can definitely see them being up there,” said Rovers’ star Giles Barnes this week. “They are a good team and they are playing well at the moment.
“It is going to be a tough game but hopefully we can capitalise on any mistakes they make.”
The last time the two sides met, the Royals sentenced Rovers to a 2-0 defeat at the Madejski Stadium - a result which was to bring about the end of Sean O’Driscoll’s five-year spell in charge.
But not before he had read the riot act to the players in a long behind-closed-doors inquest.
“I played in that game and I feel we owe them one,” said Barnes. “We didn’t really know what happened in that game; they kind of picked us off and we had an off day.
“Whether that is what led to the manager getting sacked I don’t know although it turned out to be his last game in charge.
“We obviously owe them one for beating us but it is not about feeling that we owe them one it is more about just wanting to win the game.
“Earlier in the season we struggled to win at the Keepmoat Stadium but we’ve turned the corner in the last couple of months and we are unbeaten in our last five home games.
“Home games are very important to us because that’s where we’ve been picking up most of our points in recent weeks and we’ve got to keep being hard to beat.
“We’ve got to make the Keepmoat a fortress and make it an intimidating place for other teams to come and I think that’s what we are doing at the moment.
“We feel confident when we are playing at home and we know that if we play well that it is going to take a good side to beat us.
“I’ve not started for the last few games but the lads are doing well and we’ve just got to keep doing what we’ve been doing and hopefully we should be okay.
“The manager has set a target of nine more wins and unless we can start to pick up some wins away, we are going to have to win virtually all our games at the Keepmoat.
“Obviously that would be difficult but not impossible, but realistically we’ve got to start winning some away games, or at least picking up points, and that is our target.
“We’ve not won for seven away games, though we drew 0-0 at Hull on Tuesday, but I think once we get a win then we can kick on from there.
“There is no different mentality in the dressing room before an away game; we are going out there to win.
“There might be a different team shape or different tactics but at the end of the day the priority is to try and win.
“We’ve got some tough away games but there are no easy games in the Championship. “There are a lot of big teams, though we seem to have done alright against a lot of them, especially at home.
“But we are going to be pushing to win games no matter who we are playing against. We still all think that we can get out of trouble and stay in this division.”
Team and referee
ROVERS (possible): Button, O’ Connor, Hird, Lockwood, Spurr, Bamogo, Oster, Stock, M Woods Diouf, Hayter (4-3-3)
READING (possible): Federici, Cummings, Pearce, Gorkss, Griffin, McAnuf, Karacan, Tabb, Antonio/Kebe, Hunt/Le Fondre, Roberts (4-4-2)
REFEREE: Tony Bates (Staffs) has handed out 65 yellow cards in his 24 games in charge this season but has yet to dish out a red. He booked five players on the opening day of the season when taking charge of the Reading-Millwall clash. He’s also handed out five yellow cards on two other occasions.
DONCASTER Rovers go into tomorrow’s game still looking to beat Reading at Championship level.
Since returning to the second tier of English football the Royals have won six and drawn one of their seven games
Rovers best chance of doing so came in the 2010-11 season when they led 3-1 at the Madejski Stadium only to concede three goals in the last half-hour to go down 4-3.
There were even more goals in the classic encounter between the two sides at Belle Vue back in the 1982-83 season when Rovers beat the visitors 7-5 in a Division Three game.