Portsmouth vs Doncaster Rovers Preview
Liam Lawrence is suspended following his red card against QPR whilst David Nugent and Greg Halford both face late fitness tests. Nugent has been receiving treatment in an oxygen tank in a bid to get fit
On-loan Southampton defender Joseph Mills will miss the game because of an ankle injury and Martin Woods is yet to recover from a groin problem. Main marksman Billy Sharp is still absent with a long term injury.
This match is personally going to have a strange aura about it for me as I have never witnessed a Portsmouth vs Doncaster match, as I wasn't born when the teams last met in 1983.
That was back when Pompey and Rovers were both in the third tier of English football, with the Blues taking all three points from the old Belle Vue ground on the way to winning Division Three.
Doncaster were relegated that season and languished in and out of the Football League before a humiliating 1997/1998 season saw them lose a record 33 games and their chairman, Ken Richardson, jailed for four years.
However, those bad memories are long gone for Rovers fans as John Ryan took control of the club and oversaw the club win the Conference play-off final in 2003, win Division Three a year later and then beat Leeds in the League One play-off final in 2008 to reach the Championship.
In fact, it was only a couple of years ago that a list of "over-acheiving football clubs" was published in which Pompey were second and Doncaster were top. Their recent rise through the ranks of English football deserves respect as it has been done by playing good football and excellent management from board level downwards.
So, those of you expecting a win tomorrow just because the opposition are a "small club" should remember that this team currently lie above Pompey in the Championship table and that their history in the lower leagues will count for nothing.
Without Liam Lawrence, the majority of the creativity has been taken out of the midfield whereas Doncaster's game plan is all about quick passing in the centre of the park in attempt to create as many chances as possible. Brown and Mullins are going to be very busy tomorrow, that's for sure.
Of course, playing such open and entertaining football means that Doncaster's defence is often exposed and they haven't kept a clean sheet on the road since the opening day of the season.
For the first time in a while, I was impressed with our defensive display on Tuesday as a unit and so I'm hoping that Pompey may finally keep a clean sheet, barring any late penalty drama of course.
I'm looking forward to a good, but difficult game tomorrow.
Predicted Starting Line-Ups
GK: Jamie ASHDOWN
RB: Joel WARD
CB: Ibrahima SONKO
CB: Aaron MOKOENA
LB: Carl DICKINSON
RM: Nadir CIFTCI
CM: Hayden MULLINS
CM: Michael BROWN
LM: John UTAKA
CF: Dave KITSON
GK: Neil SULLIVAN
RB: James O'CONNOR
CB: Shelton MARTIS
CB: Wayne THOMAS
LB: Mustapha DUMBUYA
RM: James COPPINGER
CM: Brian STOCK
CM: John OSTER
LM: Dean SHIELS
CF: James HAYTER
CF: David HEALY
Last Time: Portsmouth 2 Doncaster Rovers 1 (Division Three - 27/11/1982)
Steve Aizlewood scored a penalty and Neil Webb added a second to send Bobby Campbell's men onto victory in front of a crowd of 9,474.
Given the players missing and the fact that Doncaster are a good team, I think this will be a draw. Underestimate Donny at your peril!
Portsmouth 1 Doncaster Rovers 1