Doncaster Rovers v Oldham - Big Match Verdict
SINCE accepting the job at Doncaster Rovers, Dean Saunders has paid more and more attention to sports science.
Prompted by the injury chaos that preceded his arrival, diet, recovery and video analysis have all become necessary components of Saunders’ high octane style of play.
And Rovers will need to be recovered and re-energised to the max tonight to make it four wins on the spin against an Oldham side who have also won their last two.
Memorable days like Saturday’s derby destruction of Scunthorpe not only take a lot out of players physically, but also emotionally too.
Players, if not prepared correctly, can still be on something of a ‘come down’ when they play two games in quick succession.
But Saunders - or fitness guru Mal Purchase to be more precise - will have taken every step necessary to ensure his players can muster a repeat performance little more than 78 hours later.
Purchase, for instance, had the players drinking beetroot juice in pre-season for energy.
On Saturday against the Iron they were fuelled by pure adrenaline and confidence.
There is a real danger, however, that tonight could be a case of ‘after the Lord Mayor’s show’.
Saunders must decide whether to change a winning team. Martin Woods is fit after coming off at the weekend with stomach cramps, while Sammy Clingan and Chris Brown are pushing for starts.
Whoever starts, Rovers are in for a tougher test all round and, in 12-goal pair Matt Derbyshire and Jose Baxter, the Latics boast a much more mobile forward line than Leon Clarke and Nathan Ellington.
If the likes of Paul Keegan and James Harper can repeat what they did at the weekend, closing down space and winning second balls, they can prevent Derbyshire and Baxter getting the sort of service on which they thrive.
Beyond the science, Saunders is not one for spending time stressing about the opposition. His focus is always on his own team.
And if Rovers play to their strengths, by remaining defensively solid, threatening from set pieces and continuing to look lively in and around Oldham’s box, they can go level on points with leaders Tranmere with victory.
I’ve just got that nagging feeling, however, that it won’t be that straight forward against Paul Dickov’s men.
Free Press prediction: Rovers 1 Oldham 1
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Weather for Doncaster
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: North