Crystal Palace v Doncaster Rovers: Paul Goodwin’s verdict

Hull City v Doncaster Rovers. Habib Bamogo
Hull City v Doncaster Rovers. Habib Bamogo
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GOALS have been hard to come by at Selhurst Park this season.

And that pattern could continue on Saturday as Dean Saunders ponders how to get a goal-shy Doncaster side - minus Billy Sharp - finding the net with more regularity.

Rovers were not forced to sell Sharp, while any suggestion that the 26-year-old was encouraged to leave is completely wide of the mark.

But the shock resignations of mega-bucks board members Terry Bramall and Dick Watson meant Rovers were fairly grateful in the end to receive the undisclosed sum Southampton stumped up to get their man.

Rovers still might feel somewhat short-changed, and there is little doubt that the Saints picked up the biggest bargain of the January sales.

But it is the shortage of goals in the current side which will now be of more concern to Saunders, whose job description seems to get harder and harder by the week.

Saunders this week is preparing his team to face a Palace outift who neither concede, or score many, on their own patch.

All the pointers then, if Rovers can continue their new-found defensive solidness, suggest a low-scoring affair is on the cards at Selhurst Park.

It could be a very similar game to what we saw at Hull - and one moment of magic could be enough to settle things.

Without Sharp and an injured James Coppinger, Rovers have to keep things tight and hope they can nick something at the other end.

Too much of the goalscoring burden currently falls at the feet of James Hayter, whose tally of four goals is enough to see him top Rovers’ scoring chart.

El Hadji Diouf has always been more of a creator than a scorer.

And so more responsibility falls upon Doncaster’s midfielders and unknown quantity Habib Bamogo to chip in with goals - if indeed Saunders does not raid the loan market for another striker before the weekend.

Bamogo (pictured) showed some intelligent movement at the KC Stadium and linked up nicely with his team-mates.

But it is asking a lot for a player so unconditioned to the English game to fill the boots of one of the division’s hottest properties and to come straight in and score every other week.

Goals have not been a problem for Tuesday night’s visitors Blackpool, for whom Kevin Phillips is enjoying a purple patch at the tender age of 38.

The visit of the Tangerines could well prove to be Doncaster’s hardest remaining home game and if Rovers can collect one win from these two games that would represent a decent few days’ work.

goodwin’s VERDICT: Clean sheets are now key to Rovers’ relegation battle. Without Sharp, Doncaster can’t simply try and out-score teams.

PREDICTIONS: Palace 0 Rovers 0 and Rovers 1 Blackpool 1