Doncaster Rovers v Leicester City: Paul Goodwin’s Verdict

Goalscorer Marc-Antoine Fortune in action at St Andrew's.
Goalscorer Marc-Antoine Fortune in action at St Andrew's.

TO be bottom of the table at Christmas is like getting a great big kiss of death under the mistletoe.

It usually points to a less than prosperous New Year.

And it usually ends in one thing.

So when high-rollers Leicester City arrive in town this weekend, a draw - which would be enough to avoid that particular curse - would keep festive spirits high at the Keepmoat Stadium.

It would be quite a turn up for the books too.

Rovers seem to be very much all-or-nothing under Dean Saunders.

At Birmingham, after a smart strike from impressive loan striker Marc-Antoine Fortune and continuation of the battling qualities that were so evident against Southampton, they literally had it all.

But, as has been the case too often with Doncaster in 2011, they ended up with nothing - succumbing to yet another late goal.

Old habits die hard it appears.

And while Deano has undoubtedly given the dressing room a lift with his incredible appetite for winning, that hasn’t yet solved the problems of Sean O’Driscoll’s latter days at the club.

On their day, Rovers are quite capable of beating anyone at this level, particularly when they can call upon the likes of Fortune and El Hadji Diouf.

But they are still far too easy to beat.

Doncaster have lost more games on the road than anyone else in the Championship, and in the process they have failed to keep a single clean sheet on their travels.

Along with bottom club Coventry and struggling Bristol City, they have also won the fewest number of games at home.

So the magic formula for staving off relegation is hardly rocket science.

Rovers need to continue where they left off against Southampton and start winning at home on a regular basis.

They also need to become harder to beat away from the Keepmoat Stadium - and the value of draws should not be underestimated.

Doncaster have lost five out of the last six on the road, and alarmingly they have conceded at least two goals in EVERY away game this season, bar one.

Saunders (pictured below) might prefer his team to go all out for victory wherever and whenever they play; personally I’d like to see them grind out a couple of boring nil nils!

His team has to rid itself of the soft centre that is preventing Rovers from stringing back-to-back results together.

Only in Saunders’ first three games in charge have Doncaster managed to stretch an unbeaten run beyond ONE game in the Championship this season - another alarming statistic that simply has to change in 2012.

But it’s not all doom and gloom.

The last three games have fostered a renewed spirit among the players and a consistency in team selection.

One can only hope that is taken into this weekend’s pre-Christmas clash with the Foxes.

It was Fortune who stole the show at St Andrew’s - some of his touches were sublime and the West Brom man will be full of confidence after finding the net.

His partnership with Billy Sharp means Rovers are always in with a chance.

But they can’t rely on always outscoring the opposition.

They need to keep things tight - in a similar vein to the Southampton performance - and then the results will come.

Leicester are a side who have struggled for consistency since Nigel Pearson returned to the Walkers Stadium - but the Foxes boss will know exactly what to expect from Doncaster.

His Hull team earned a point at the Keepmoat in September - and Deano might have to settle for another rare draw this weekend.

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