The Opposition View: Doncaster Rovers

Last updated : 04 January 2017 By Jim Bonner

What did you make of the reverse fixture at Fratton Park earlier in the season?

I wasn't able to make the game unfortunately but I was delighted with the result, a win at Fratton Park is not something to be balked at. I did once see us snatch a 3-2 win there thanks to David Healy but our win back in October appeared to be one borne out of good fortune more than anything else.

I seem to remember we withstood a barrage of chances in the second half and profited from some very slack defending to race into a two-goal lead. Our sides were level on points at the time so I'm pleased with how we've kicked on since then to go top of the table.

Will Darren Ferguson sign any particular players during this transfer window? Does he need to?

He's already been busy strengthening, bringing in two players as well as extending the loans of the influential Jordan Houghton and Niall Mason. Conor Grant has returned from Everton on loan to bolster our midfield options, following on from a very productive spell here last season, and a highly rated young striker named Alfie May has joined from non-league as well.

Others have left or are on their way out, so the squad is taking shape nicely. I expect we'll see one or two more additions, perhaps a left back to cover Mason as Cedric Evina has run out of chances and a new goalkeeper to challenge Marko Marosi for the #1 spot. Otherwise we are in good shape and no longer have many injuries like we did earlier in the campaign.

You cited the attacking players as Doncaster's biggest strength during the last interview. Is this still the case?

Absolutely, we remain the division's highest scorers and have goal threats all over the pitch. Andy Williams is back from injury and should resume his partnership with John Marquis in the game, Marquis is our top scorer but has looked a little leggy over the Christmas period.

Young Liam Mandeville has been a revelation as well, netting ten goals in the past few months, but fortunately for Pompey he is currently dealing with a thigh injury and is doubtful.

Donny's main weakness was conceding soft goals last time. Has this been rectified and if so, are there any other weaknesses that Pompey can exploit on Thursday?

It pleases me to say we have finally made some progress at the back. I've looked over our line-up from the reverse fixture and the back four is almost unrecognisable, only Andy Butler should expect to start from the defence that played at Fratton Park.

Mathieu Baudry is growing in stature all the time since making his protracted debut and really adds a sense of security and ability to our back line, whilst Niall Mason has claimed the left back slot for his own after a series of confident displays.

We have only conceded one goal in our last four games and will be tough to break down at home, where we are unbeaten since last Easter Monday.

Bearing in mind the magnitude of this fixture and Portsmouth's excellent away record since September, is a draw a bad result for you and would you take it if offered?

I wouldn't say it is a bad result but I also wouldn't take it if offered, we're on our best ever run at the Keepmoat Stadium in exactly ten years playing here and as of this past Monday boast the last undefeated home record in League Two.

It will be a tough game, there are no illusions about that, but we aim to win every game, particularly at home and will be confident. We've dealt with some very stubborn, organised teams recently and are finding a way to eke out results even when the performance isn't perfect, so I'll be hoping for a win. That said, if the result is a draw it does us no harm really as you are our nearest rivals for automatic promotion and that is our primary aim, so if the points are shared at full time I will be satisfied.

Can we expect a similar type of match to the Fratton Park fixture on Thursday night or do you think this game will have a different complexity?

It seems both sides have come on from where they were back in October, we aren't as open and you seem to be a bit more consistent in certain areas. I expect we will see a very even contest this time, perhaps more cagey than the game in October appeared to be.

Predict the outcome of the match.

I will hedge my bets and predict a draw, 1-1. Seldom is it a thrilling watch when we get selected to play on tele.