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by The Rovers Review

Rovers face Crewe Alexandra at the Keepmoat in a hope to keep their undefeated start 2017.

Liam Mandeville has now returned from injury, and will come back into contention. He'll be pressuring Andy Williams, who hasn't scored in the league since returning from injury himself.

Mitchell Lund is another youngster, who has recovered from injury, but with Matty Blair and Craig Alcock battling over the right-back position you can see that it's going to be hard for Lund to get a shout. Ferguson has even commented that he's looking to send Lund out on a one-month loan during this window.

Left-back Tyler Garratt won't be featuring in the first team for the remainder of the season after extending his loan with Eastleigh. This gives Niall Mason a chance to make the left-back position his own, although he needs to make up for his mistakes in previous matches, such as being responsible for Barnet's goal just the other weekend.

Rovers remain unbeaten at home this season, while Crewe are poor away from home, picking up a total of 14 points from a possible 39. This match will see David Artell take charge of his second game for Crewe after losing his first.

Rovers manager Darren Ferguson will be taking charge of his 70th game v Crewe and will be looking to make it 30 out of 70 wins in charge.

Player to watch
Loanee Alex Kiwomya is the player to watch for Crewe. He is also Jordan Houghton's team mate from Chelsea and causes a threat from Crewe's midfield. Crewe striker, Ryan Lowe is their top goalscorer with 9 goals scored so far this season.

Previous encounters
The last encounter with crewe was in September 2016, where we lost 2-1 with goals from Ryan Lowe and James Jones and Tommy Rowe making the defeat less embarrassing, scoring from the penalty spot. Last time Crewe came to the Keepmoat it was the dramatic late 3-2 win before Christmas in 2015. Goals from Conor Grant, Andy Williams and Cameron Stewart earned Rovers three points that day back in league one.

Predicted lineup v Crewe Alexandra
Lawlor; Blair, Butler, Baudry, Mason; Houghton, Grant, Rowe, Coppinger; Marquis and Williams.
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by The Rovers Review

After completing the double over Portsmouth last week, Rovers look to do the double over Barnet this week.

Goalkeeper, Marko Marosi, has been ruled out for 3 months after picking up an ankle injury v Portsmouth last week, which was similar to the one Craig Alcock sustained at the beginning of the season. New signing Ian Lawlor will be available for selection, but personally I'd like to see Etheridge given a chance to redeem himself between the sticks.

Cedric Evina is believed to be remaining at the club after weeks of discontent. It's reported that Evina had the chance to go on loan to another league two club, but he turned it down after talking to that manager. Evina could return to the squad, and will put pressure on Aston Villa loanee, Niall Mason, who was considered at the 'weak link' against Portsmouth.

In-form youngster, Liam Mandeville is 'touch and go' for the game after missing the previous two games due to picking up a 'knock', personally I wouldn't risk him.

At home, Barnet have been picking up 1.42 points per game, but Rovers just have the edge on them, because we have earned 1.58 points per game on the road.

Rovers sit 4 points clear at top of league two, where as Barnet occupy the last spot in the play-offs, in 7th place.

Player to watch
John Akinde is Barnet's top goal scorer, with 18 goals so far this season; all of which came in the league. He played a big part in the reverse fixture, as Barnet threw long throw-ins into the box where Akinde then pounced and threatened Rovers goal several times, but never managed to score.

Previous encounters
We last played Barnet at the Keepmoat in October last year, where it finished 3-2 to the Rovers with goals from: Coppinger, Blair and a late winner from Williams, before he consequently picked up his injury.

Last time Rovers travelled to Barnet in the league, was in 1997, where we drew 1-1.

Overall, Rovers have won 4, drawn 5 and lost 4 against Barnet in the league since 1991.

Predicted lineup v Barnet
Etheridge; Blair, Butler, Baudry, Mason; Houghton, Grant, Rowe, Coppinger; Marquis and Williams.
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by The Rovers Review

After grinding out a 1-0 victory at home on Monday, Rovers face a visit from fellow league two promotion candidates Portsmouth on Thursday night.

Liam Mandeville is expected to miss this encounter due to suffering a slight 'knock' prior to the Stevenage game.

Andy Williams and John Marquis are expected to be given a chance to rekindle their partnership upfront against Portsmouth. Conor Grant is expected to keep his place in midfield with his return to the club last week.

18 year-old Tony Donaldson in the last few days signed for Rovers on an 18 month contract and he is expected to make his debut on the bench.

Rovers remain unbeaten at home this term, but will they crack under the pressure of Sky's cameras as Portsmouth have won six of their thirteen away games this season?

Portsmouth have the best defence in the league as they've only conceded 22 goals in 24 games and Rovers have conceded 31 in just as many games.

Players to watch
Midfielder Gary Roberts is the player to watch on the Portsmouth team with him being their top goal scorer with 7 goals, and threatened Rovers with an equaliser late on in the previous game, but never managed to score.
Roberts is closely followed by striker Michael Smith, who has scored 6 goals, with three coming in the league.

Previous encounters
Rovers last faced Portsmouth in October at Fratton Park, which saw Rovers be 2-1 victors with goals from John Marquis and Andy Williams. Carl Baker was the only consolation for Portsmouth that day.

Overall, Rovers have won 4 and drawn 3 out of 10 encounters against Portsmouth since 1947, so hopefully Rovers good record will continue in front of the TV cameras this Thursday as Rovers look to gain way at top of the league - doing the double over Portsmouth would definitely be a statement to the rest of  the league!

Predicted lineup v Portsmouth
Marosi; Baudry, Butler, Mason; Houghton, Blair, Rowe, Grant, Coppinger; Marquis and Williams.
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by The Rovers Review

After drawing 1-1 with local rivals, Mansfield Town on the final day of 2016, Rovers look to bounce back by beginning 2017 with 3 points against visitors Stevenage.
James Coppinger is available for selection after serving his three match ban, which he picked up v Plymouth at beginning of December. Consequently Ferguson has to decide whether to drop Liam Mandeville, John Marquis or Andy Williams if he wants Coppinger to return to the starting eleven.

At the time of writing this preview we're still waiting to hear about two new signings that Ferguson told the press would be available for this game. One is expected to be non-league striker, Alfie May, who has been confirmed to be coming to Rovers by his club Hythe. The other is rumored to by ex-Rovers loanee, Conor Grant. Either way, these two signings could come into contention for the Stevenage game, should they be announced in time.

Mitchell Lund has recently returned to training and will be edging closer to returning to the match-day squad.

Rovers go into this match with the joint best home record in league two - on par with second place, Carlisle United. Stevenage, however, are fifth on the away form table with them earning 20 points on the road so far this term.

Both teams are also in the top six for best offensive teams in the league with Stevenage scoring 35 goals from 23 games and Rovers scoring 45 also in 23.

Players to watch
Striker Matt Godden is their main threat, netting 7 goals in the league so far this team. Godden is also Stevenage's best player for assists with him getting 6 in total this season - so it's safe to say he is massive attacking threat for Boro.

Previous encounters
We last faced Stevenage last month (December 2016) in the action packed 4-3 win for Rovers at Broadhall Way. Goals from Butler, Mandeville, Blair and an own goal from their goalkeeper Jamie Jones helped Rovers secure the three points.

Predicted lineup v Stevenage Town
Marosi; Alcock, Butler, Baudry, Mason; Houghton, Blair, Rowe, Coppinger; Mandeville and Marquis.
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by The Rovers Review

After securing three points on boxing day with a victory v Notts County, Rovers look to local rivals, Mansfield Town for a victorious end to 2016.

James Coppinger will serve his final ban, for the new year's eve trip, meaning Mandeville will continue in his role of CAM, with Marquis and Williams up front.

This would also be Frazer Richardson's last match, although he will miss it through injury. If Mitchell Lund returns from injury on time, then it looks like Richardson will not be remaining at the Rovers.

Tommy Rowe picked up a 'knock' against Notts County, and it is believed that it might not be too serious, but whether or not that means Rowe is available or not for Mansfield is yet to be decided.

Mathieu Baudry was also iIll during the 1-0 victory, and was substituted at half time for Joe Wright, who also impressed. If Baudry is still ill then Ferguson will have every confidence in Wright to step-up again.

Rovers go into this game at top of league two, on 45 points, while Mansfield sit in 17th place with 26 points. Mansfield have one of the worst attacks in the league - other than Accrington - as they've only scored a dismal 21 goals in league two from 22 games, where as Rovers have triumphed, scoring the most in the league with 44 goals.

On the contrary, the Stags have a better defensive record than Rovers with them only conceding 28 goals so far, and Rovers conceding 30 goals out of 22 games.

We've met before
Mansfield have two former Rovers players in their side, which could feature against us on New Year's Eve:

James Baxendale: making two appearances from 2011-2012
Oscar Gobern: making 5 appearences while on loan from QPR during 2015.

Players to watch
Their striker, Matt Green, is their most threatening player, and is also their top scorer, scoring 7 goals so far this term.

Previous encounters
Last time we faced each other was during our 2-0 victory at the One Call Stadium back in August this year, during the group stages of the 'Checkatrade Trophy', with goals from Beestin and Calder. Back in 2004 - when we last faced them in the league - it also was victory for Rovers at Mansfield with two goals from Greg Blundell in the second half secured the three points after we went a goal down, during the first half.

Overall, Rovers have won 20 games out of 66 games, drawing 16, since 1932.

Predicted lineup v Mansfield Town
Marosi; Alcock, Butler, Baudry, Mason; Houghton, Blair, Middleton (pending the result  of Rowe's injury), Mandeville; Marquis and Williams.
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