Preview: Doncaster Rovers v Gillingham - Transformed Rovers can show people they mean business

Paul Dickov's last game in charge was the 1-0 defeat at Gillingham in September.
Paul Dickov's last game in charge was the 1-0 defeat at Gillingham in September.

If a game was needed to help ensure the excitement levels of last weekend do not dip too dramatically then the visit of a promotion chaser is probably ideal.

While Gillingham might not conjure up the same sort of glamour that Premier League opposition did for last weekend’s thrilling FA Cup tie, Saturday’s match is much more important in the landscape of Rovers’ season.

Rovers return to League One duty sitting six points off the final play-off place with expectation levels now risen to a level where promotion talk is back on the agenda.

Three points on Saturday would ensure the levels of positivity would only sky rocket.

The whole atmosphere surrounding the club is a far cry from what it was the last time they went head to head with Gillingham.

The September 5 trip to the Priestfield Stadium marked the last time Paul Dickov would take charge of Rovers.

The performance that day was not particularly poor. Missed chances cost Rovers at least a deserved point and it was a single controversial goal that ensured a win for Justin Edinburgh’s side.

But the vocal majority of the 234 Rovers fans who endured the open air Brian Moore Stand had reached the end of their tether with the hard luck story of Dickov’s men.

They angrily jeered Dickov off as he walked down the tunnel. And three days later he was gone.

Fast-forward 19 weeks and the topic of luck is rarely discussed in relation to Rovers.

When you are playing well, you make your own luck. And Rovers are certainly playing well.

The transformation between the two meetings has been stark, personified by Andy Williams who this week has found himself subject of speculation linking him with a move up the Football League ladder.

In September, Williams looked to be fighting a losing battle for form, struggling to gel with his new team mates who were just struggling in general.

He cut an incredibly frustrated figure at Gillingham, looking like the weight of the world was on his shoulders.

His transformation over the last four months has matched that of Rovers as a whole and ensure that they go into an immensely tough game full of confidence.

Gillingham’s defeat to Wigan last time out ended a four match winning run. They have never been outside the top four this season.

The Gills will more the likely line up in a 4-4-2 formation with a midfield diamond, just as they did when they last met Rovers.

That day they used their full backs to great effect with Ryan Jackson and Brad Garmston bombing forward and brought into play exceptionally well.

The defensive work of Rovers’ wing backs will be vital to prevent Gillingham from exploiting space on the wings, while the midfield three must show discipline to prevent the visitors from bossing the middle of the park.

Rovers showed against Stoke how hard they are capable of working and more of the same will be needed against genuine automatic promotion contenders.

If last weekend was about letting the wider Rovers public know just how good their team can be, this weekend is their chance to let the rest of League One know they mean business in the second half of the season.