DONCASTER Rovers will go into tonight’s Championship derby against Barnsley at the Keepmoat Stadium top of the ‘South Yorkshire League.’
Rovers have picked up four points from their two games against Sheffield United, who are out of the running in what is a three-team competition this season following the Owls’ relegation, whilst the Reds have won their only South Yorkshire derby at home to the Blades.
The result of tonight’s rearranged game will go a long way towards which set of supporters will have the bragging rights come the end of the season.
The Reds have won both their games at the Keepmoat Stadium and are likely to fancy their chances of completing a hat-trick of victories over their derby rivals given Rovers recent results.
“It will be a tough game,” admitted Rovers’ attacking midfielder Dean Shiels.
“I’ve not seen them this season but I know from playing them last season that it won’t be an easy game because they are always well organised.”
The game will see the return to the Keepmoat Stadium of former Rovers favourite, Jason Shackell.
Shackell spent most of last season on loan at the club and they had hoped to make the deal permanent in the summer, only to be pipped for his signature by the Reds’ better financial package.
“It was a big blow for us when he opted to join Barnsley rather than sign for us,” said Shiels.
“I’m sure that Jason will get a decent reception from the Doncaster fans because he did a really good job for us.”
“He’s a good player and he’ll be a threat from set-pieces. He is also very vocal and a good organiser. Having being here last season he’ll know a fair bit about us and I’m sure he will have briefed the Barnsley players.”
Shiels said: “You never know what sort of game it is going to be with it being a derby. We are obviously going to try and get the ball down and play football as we always do. I’m sure that they will be looking to try and stop us playing our usual game but I don’t think that they’ll will be coming here just looking for a point; I think that they will try and win the game.”
Rovers go into the game without a win in five, but Shiels insists that the players will be up for it.
“There should be a big crowd and a great atmosphere and that will give everyone a lift,” he said.
“Despite recent results the lads are still upbeat. You are always going to lose games in the Championship and it is how you react which is important.
“Obviously you have to learn from defeats but at the same time you don’t want to dwell on them. You have to look forward to the next game.”