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by The Rovers Review

Darren Ferguson is expecting a tough encounter as Rovers welcome Plymouth Argyle to the Keepmoat.

The Rovers manager made it obvious that he’s not expecting an easy ride as he welcomes Derek Adams’ team who are unbeaten in their last seven games – seeing them rise to 11th in the league.  

“They’re very similar to ourselves, they’ve managed to grow into the league and get confidence from recently being unbeaten in seven games – I think – it will be a hard game.

“We know them well. There hasn’t been much change between both club’s personnel rise and in terms of how we both play, so it will be a tough game with both teams in pretty good form. We’re at home and we want to take the game to them.”

On the injury front, Rovers are looking very healthy with no new issues and long-term absentees Alex Kiwomya and Luke McCullough are increasing their training programme, with Ferguson saying they’re looking “sharp”. It was confirmed they will both be involved in the upcoming development games before featuring in first-team games.

Rovers are strengthened by the return of Ben Whiteman as the 21-year-old was recalled from his loan last week, but he has returned for an undisclosed six-figure fee on a three-and-a-half-year deal. He will come straight back into Darren Ferguson’s thinking.

After earning three consecutive clean sheets over Christmas, it means that Rovers now have the fifth best defensive record in the league, after conceding just 28 goals in 26 games. Plymouth don’t have the best attack in the league either, as they boast the 18th worst goals for stat, scoring only 29 goals in 26 games.

When away from home the Pilgrims have a 38% record of being one goal down at half-time.

The last time these teams met was in the reverse fixture this season at Home Park where Rovers beat a 10-man Plymouth 3-0 with goals from Andy Butler, John Marquis and Alfie May.

Their previous visit to the Keepmoat, however, ended in a win for Plymouth as Sonny Bradley’s second-half goal was the only thing to separate both sides.
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Darren Ferguson thinks Rovers’ fourth meeting against Rochdale this season will still be tough, as Rovers face them in the third round of the FA Cup.

Although in the league Rochdale may lay in the relegation zone, Ferguson doesn’t think it will make this tie any easier.

“I think we’ve done okay at home and I think it will be another tough game – a cup match – perhaps for them it’s a little release from the league, sometimes you find that when you’re struggling, but for us we’ve got to try and keep our foot down.

He added: “The last two times we’ve been to Rochdale they’ve managed to score late goals. But, I felt we did quite well against them here.”

The bug that was reported to be going around the Rovers camp seems to have died off as of late with Tommy Rowe being the only exception for feeling under the weather, but Ferguson confirmed it’s nothing to worry about.

After missing Rovers’ festive period, James Coppinger has recovered from injury and will be available for Ferguson to select this weekend.

This encounter will come just after a week of last facing each other, when Rovers were 2-0 victors in the league.

To get to this round Rovers have so far seen off Ebbsfleet (6-2) before going on to beat Scunthorpe (3-0). Rochdale has seen off both Bromley and Slough Town by 4-0 in both games.

Since 1923 Rovers have won 54, drawn 19 and lost 37 against Rochdale.

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by The Rovers Review

Darren Ferguson is looking forward to his return to his old employers, Peterborough United, as Rovers face the Posh for their first game of 2018.

Both teams come into this encounter with a five-point gap between each other; Peterborough sits in 8th while Rovers lurk behind in 10th position.

Ferguson had this to say ahead of the encounter: "They're in very good form themselves at the moment and it was a very cagey game here at home last time. Both teams have slightly changed since then.

It's one I'm looking forward to, obviously going back to my old team which is always nice, but we're going to go there and try to win the game."

A bug has hit Cantley Park affecting players and staff alike with Ferguson recently confirming that Alfie Beestin and Rodney Kongolo have been suffering the brunt of the illness, while Alfie May and Mathieu Baudry have also been affected by the bug.

Ferguson has also confirmed some of his staff are suffering too, so in combat with the raging illness, the Scotsman gave everyone the day off on Saturday.

Rovers have won all three of their last three league games, whilst also keeping three consecutive clean sheets. Consequently, Rovers' form has seen them earn an average of 1.32 points-per-game while Peterborough have won two of their last three games averaging in total 1.52 points-per-game.

The last time the two teams met was back in September at the Keepmoat and that did finish in a goalless draw, but the last time Rovers went to the Abax Stadium they lost embarrassingly 4-0 - coincidently Ferguson's second game in charge in October 2015. All four of Posh's goal scorers from the last trip Abax Stadium have all departed: Conor Washington, Callum Elder, Erhun Oztumer and Gabriel Zakuani.

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by The Rovers Review

Darren Ferguson wants to see Rovers turn their good performances into results over the festive period, starting this Saturday at Bristol Rovers.

Bristol Rovers boast the fourth best home record in the league to date, and that is something Ferguson does acknowledge.

“It’s a tough game at Bristol, they’ve won their last two home games, but we go there knowing that if we beat them then we go above them,” said Ferguson.

“They took a heavy defeat last week but before that, they beat Southend at home, Rotherham at home – it’s always been a difficult place to go.”

Going into a busy festive period, the Rovers manager thinks it’s a crucial part of the season that will begin at Bristol,

“It’s a very crucial period, and always is, always will be, because there’s so many games and points to play for over such a quick space of time.

“I think we’ve been playing quite well. The results always the most important thing and we need to find a way of getting better results, that’s the bottom line, and I do believe these performances will get us there.

“They play forward really quick. They’re a big team and are a threat from set-pieces. They have a long throw with good forward players – Bowden in particular.”

James Coppinger and Craig Alcock have been handed a clean bill of health and they could make a return to the squad this weekend against Bristol Rovers, whilst Matty Blair will be touch and go as to whether he’ll be back to full fitness in time.

Ferguson has also declared that Coppinger along with ‘two or three others’, will be rotated in and out of the squad around the Christmas period with five games in just over two weeks.

The last time both sides met was at the Memorial Stadium back in March 2008, where it ended in Doncaster winning 1-0 thanks to an early Paul Heffernan strike. James Coppinger was also sent off having received two yellow cards.

In 2007/08 season when Rovers beat them in both fixtures, Bristol Rovers had Rovers' current striker Andy Williams featuring for them, though Williams didn't score in either fixture . Williams won't be involved this weekend as he's ruled out through injury.
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by The Rovers Review

Ferguson thinks Rovers can be successful against an Oxford United with a poor home record – if they keep organised.

After recently making his return to the team, Matty Blair has been ruled out for this weekend’s clash against Oxford, after straining his calf muscle. Alfie May will make a return, but won’t be able to start, so instead, he’ll bolster Ferguson’s options on the bench.

After beating Scunthorpe United 3-0 last weekend, Ferguson believes that that is the foundation to build on going forward,
“It just gives the players belief, but it’s just about being consistent now and that’s the hardest thing to do in any league for any team. The one that is the most consistent is generally the one that’s more successful.”

Previewing Oxford, Ferguson thinks that their home form could be a weakness,
“A little bit ahead of us, but they haven’t won at home for five games. They’re very good footballing team. Possession based team who will try and play through thirds.
“We’ll have to make sure we’re very well organised because they have some very good individuals.”

One of those players will be one of Doncaster’s very own Alex Mowatt – who’s currently on loan from Barnsley – as well a Wes Thomas who scored in their last league match against Southend which helped United earn a point away from home.

Rovers do have a narrow edge on the form table going into this game as they have picked up 11 points from 8 games, whereas Oxford have picked up 9 points from 8 games – averaging 1.3 points-per-game.

You’ll have to go as far back to 2004, just before James Coppinger signed for Rovers, when both of these sides last met. The match on March 2004 finished with a goalless draw at the Kassam Stadium. Rovers’ last win against Oxford came in September 2003 where they were 2-0 victors at Belle Vue after goals from Tim Ryan and Paul Green.
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