For the sixth time in the last 12 seasons Rovers will face Oldham Athletic in a match in the FA Cup.
Though familiarity may somewhat breed contempt, Saturday’s clash at the Keepmoat represents a major opportunity for both sides as they look to reach the rarefied air of the fifth round.
We spoke to BBC Manchester Radio Manchester reporter Mike Minay to get the lowdown on Rovers’ opponents from League Two.
Q: Here we go again! How has the latest in a long line of cup ties against Doncaster been received in Oldham?
MM: Here we go again, indeed. The draw was met with a fair few rolled eyes with many predicting the tie before the balls were even pulled out the bag. Having said that, it’s the most local fixture Oldham has had in the competition this season with trips to Hampton and Richmond, Maidstone United and Fulham so I think a few fans are looking forward to a short hop over the Pennines.
Q: How would you assess the season so far for the Latics? What were the expectations, how realistic were they and how have results stacked up to that?
MM: It’s difficult to assess. Expectations were finely balanced between stability and a shout at the play-offs. Sadly results under Frankie Bunn – despite some positive performances – didn’t match up with the views of the chairman and they parted ways. Pete Wild has brought back a feel-good factor around Boundary Park and that’s not happened for some time. The Latics are five points outside the play-offs with consistency their biggest key. They’ll need a decent run in the second half of this season to finish inside the top seven. Automatic promotion, I feel, is beyond their reach.
Q: What are the chances of Oldham having a new manager in place by Saturday? And could it really be Paul Scholes?
MM: Whichever I write this, the opposite will happen. If they don’t have a new manager then Pete Wild will continue in charge. The man is the gift that keeps on giving from being an Oldham fan, the interim academy manager becoming the interim first team boss and also doing both jobs while continuing his university degree in Sports Coaching. At least, unlike Fulham, I don’t think he’ll have had a train ticket booked and a seat in the away end! The more time he’s spent in the role, the more he wants it, but he’s used this phrase ‘I’d rather be overcooked than undercooked’ meaning you’ll only get one shot at this job, and he’d rather have experience in the academy and earn his stripes than take the job now. Now, Paul Scholes, Oldham lad, Oldham fan. The latest in a string of former top-level pros to cut his teeth? He made no bones about wanting the job when Richie Wellens got it, so is his time now? My concern is that he’s inexperienced, and Oldham have tried two inexperienced manager’s in a row and it’s not worked. But, Lampard, Gerrard, Campbell have all taken to the hot seat and proved people wrong. And just imagine the contacts that Scholes has!
Q: Should Pete Wild remain in charge of the side, what sort of system and style of play can we expect from Oldham?
MM: Under Wild Oldham have seemed more free-flowing and more attacking. But they will rely heavily on the experience of Peter Clarke at the back to hold the defence together. A 4-4-2 traditionalist approach wouldn’t be out the question, but against higher-level opposition, expect that to be 4-5-1.
Q: Who are the Oldham dangermen?
MM: Working it from back to front – Peter Clarke is the experienced head in the centre of defence, partnered by the younger, but quickly learning, George Edmundson. Recently out wide at left-back has been Gevaro Nepomuceno – he’s more of a left winger, and if he gets a chance at a cross, watch out! In the midfield the powerhouse is Christopher Missilou – signed from a French fourth tier outfit Le Puy Foot – his interceptions, tackling and work rate have been impressive as the season progresses. Mohammed Moauche under Pete Wild has also become a key figure – clever passing, clever player, and don’t forget the pacey Callum Lang on the right wing. Strikers have been an issue for Latics, Chris O’Grady seemed to find form in December, Sam Surridge was promising but has since returned to his parent club Bournemouth. Urko Vera scored on his debut versus Macclesfield but remains an unknown quantity.