Bristol City v Doncaster Rovers: Paul Goodwin’s verdict

Rovers' James Hayter tackles Cardiff's Mark Hudson. Picture: Andrew Roe
Rovers' James Hayter tackles Cardiff's Mark Hudson. Picture: Andrew Roe
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ROVERS can go into their huge basement battle with Bristol City full of confidence - but whether they can go in with such an attacking formation is open to debate.

Despite the enforced changes in personnel, Dean Saunders has found a formula that has turned Doncaster into a force to be reckoned with at the Keepmoat Stadium.

If Rovers can maintain the high standards they showed in everything but their finishing against Cardiff, they could yet win enough points from their final ten home games to survive.

That, however, is a very big ask.

And Saunders might have to tinker with his attack-minded approach if Rovers are to stem their rotten record on the road and pick up some valuable points on their travels.

Victory at Ashton Gate, against a City side just four points better off, would obviously be the perfect scenario.

But it is almost equally important to, first and foremost, make sure Rovers do not lose the game.

A draw would at least keep the Robins within reach.

So going into the game with a formation that, at times, resembled a 4-2-4 against the Bluebirds would arguably be the biggest risk of Saunders’ reign so far.

The eleven that started against Cardiff played out of their skins and it would be equally hazardous to change a winning team.

The likelihood is that the same eleven will get the nod but James Coppinger and El Hadji Diouf will be told to be more disciplined in their wide positions.

And it is vital Rovers give themselves a strong defensive base, frustrate the home crowd and build from there - rather than going gung ho.

James Hayter (pictured above) could drop into a deeper role behind Billy Sharp and help out Simon Gillett and Brian Stock.

Or he could play from the left, Diouf from the right, with Coppinger occupying a more central position in a five-man midfield.

Rovers have lost their last five on the road, conceding on average almost three goals per game in the process.

They need to stem the tide of away defeats and stop conceding soft goals.

And Saturday’s six-pointer is the perfect time to find the right formula away from the Keepmoat Stadium.

Prediction: Bristol City 1 Rovers 1