Raven tips Rovers to beat Coventry

ENGLAND schoolboy international Paul Raven, a defensive kingpin in the Rovers side that reached the FA Youth Cup final in 1988, made his first team debut aged 17 while still a sixth form pupil at Hall Cross School.

After just 52 league games he was sold to West Brom in March 1989 for 150,000 when the club was strapped for cash and threatened with a winding up order. Son-in-law of Rovers legend Brian Makepeace, the central defender made over 300 appearances for the Baggies and also enjoyed spells at Rotherham, Grimsby and Carlisle. Now works for sportswear company Prostar.

DONCASTER are an excellent team and I admire the way the manager gets them playing football the right way and in the right spirit.

They have started well but I was a central defender for 13 years in this division and know first hand that a slight lapse in concentration at this level can cost you the game.

Teams will finish you off or punish you more readily than in the lower leagues.

You just can not switch off at all for the full 90 minutes.

Last week Rovers faced a physical QPR side and, as you move up the leagues, in a lot of cases the higher up you go the better athletes teams have.

They're fitter, stronger and, in some cases, bigger so Doncaster will come up against this more often.

But the important thing is that they continue to play the brand of football we are used to seeing them play.

As a boy at Doncaster we had the best coach a young player could have wanted in Steve Beaglehole and he told us 'if it goes wrong - let it be a positive wrong'.

That holds true to this day - Doncaster are going to get beat but they have got to be positive and continue to play the way they do.

Looking at Coventry they have got a terrific manager in Chris Coleman and have one or two big threats.

Clinton Morrison was always a difficult opponent whenever I played against him because he has that awkwardness about him, while the speed of Michael Mifsud is also going to be a danger.

The other thing the defence has to be aware of is the long throw of Aron Gunnarsson - he can really fling the ball in so Doncaster have got to stand up to that.

Coventry have a fantastic new stadium and many years of playing in the top flight so expectations are always high.

But the club is in transition and they've been on a downward spiral for many years - it can take a long time to get back up there.

Nevertheless it's a big club with a new management team and strong financial backing in place.

But I think its the perfect time to play them.

Doncaster have not played midweek while Coventry had extra time against Newcastle in the Carling Cup on Tuesday.

They also had a disappointing home defeat the previous Saturday so it's a great time to play them.

Prediction: 1-0 to Doncaster.

Free Press Prediction: Rovers to edge it 3-2.