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by The Rovers Review

The title could be in touching distance for Rovers this Easter weekend as they travel to Essex to take on Colchester United.
 
One main injury concern for Darren Ferguson going into the match and that is James Coppinger, who is still suffering from ankle problems. Gary McSheffrey could continue playing in Coppinger’s role while he’s out, as Ferguson has hinted at rotating the two midfielders around due to their similarities in style of play and age.
 
Ferguson has also said that he is going to be shuffling the squad around due to some players still carrying knocks at this late stage of the season. One of those possible players could be Niall Mason, who has been carrying a knock for a while, but has still been completing 90 minutes in the past few games. Aaron Taylor-Sinclair could be the one to rotate with him after the Scotsman returned to the starting 18 for the first time since the Burton game last May against Mansfield last weekend.
 
While on the subject of Niall Mason, Darren Ferguson has said that he’s looking to make this loan deal permanent at the end of the season, because Mason is out of contract with his parent club, Aston Villa. This is also a similar situation for Everton loanee Conor Grant, who said he’d be willing to join should Rovers seal promotion back to league one, which was confirmed last weekend. Ferguson has said he’s going to be sitting down with Grant's agent, after having an offer accepted by Everton.
 
Good news for Rovers fans in regard to in-form striker John Marquis, who has confirmed pre-match that he is happy and settled in Doncaster and willing to discuss a new deal with the club, with his current deal expiring in the summer of 2018. There has been lots of transfer speculation surrounding the striker, due to him scoring 26 goals so far in the league.
 
This time last year Rovers faced Colchester away in league one, where Colchester 'burried' Rovers 4-1, leading to Ferguson reaching his boiling-point post-match. So, will there be an element of karma a year later, with Rovers already promoted back to league one?
 
Head-to-heads
Colchester do have the best home record in the league (excluding Rovers), which has seen them pick up 41 points at home this season from 20 games, so the Colchester Community Stadium, could be considered a bit of a fortress. Forty of Colchester’s sixty goals this season have come at home too, but Rovers just edge over Colchester with that stat, because 42 of Rovers 81 goals have come on the road, so there could also be a lot of goals in this game too.

Players to watch
The biggest goal-scoring threat from the ‘U’s’ is Chris Porter, who has managed to score 15 league goals this season, and he’ll be looking to break the 20-goal mark with 5 games left to go.
 
Defender, Brennan Dickenson is their main provider for assists, with him racking up 7 league assists – closely behind him is their top goal scorer, Chris Porter with 6 assists.

Previous encounters
In the reverse fixture, during October 2016, it finished in a 1-0 win for Rovers, with Tommy Rowe scoring the only goal during that game.
 
As mentioned previously, last time we visited the Colchester Community Stadium it finished 4-1 to Colchester, with Gary McSheffrey getting the only consolidating goal for Rovers on that day.
 
Overall, Rovers have won 22, drawn 7 and lost 18 since 1985. Can they make it 23 wins, to take a step closer to the title?

Predicted lineup v Colchester United
Lawlor; Alcock, Butler, Baudry, Taylor-Sinclair; McCullough, Blair, Rowe, McSheffrey; Williams and Marquis.
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by The Rovers Review

Rovers could seal promotion back to League One, at the first time of asking, as they host Steve Evans' Mansfield Town.

Conor Grant and James Coppinger, who missed last weekend's victory through injury, still remain a doubt for this weekend, which could see Gary McSheffrey and Luke McCullough retain their places in the squad after they started their first games this season last weekend at Grimsby.

Ferguson has estimated striker Liam Mandeville to be back just after Easter, in time for the Wycombe Wanderers game. That shouldn't be too much of a problem, however, considering that all three strikers that featured last weekend (Marquis, Williams and May) have all scored during his absence.

After receiving a lot of interest from the press this week regarding his future, Darren Ferguson has said that John Marquis isn't going anywhere and that it would take 'a lot of money', to see him leave the club. He also hinted at the fact that he'll be sitting down with Marquis to get a contract extension during the summer, along with a few other players too.

Ferguson has also again this week emphasized the ambition to win the league after stating that he wants this to be the first time he wins a league (previously he has got promotion through the divisions either by being runners up or through the play-offs). He believes - contrary to Derek Adams thoughts - that the title race isn't over yet with 6 games to go and a 6 point gap separating Rovers and Plymouth.

As for the opposition, Ferguson has said that they're going to be a team that will have the most pace out of any team Rovers have faced this season, so that could be a test in itself for the Vikings. Ferguson also said that Steve Evans will have his team working hard for him, which could suggest it's going to be a game where Rovers need to remain concentrated for the full 90 minutes.

Head-to-heads
Mansfield have a better defensive record than Rovers in the league, because they've only conceded 45 goals in 40 games, whereas Rovers have conceded 46 in just as many - so it's only fine margins separating the two sides.
The Stags have been averaging 1.45 points per game so far this season, however Rovers are sticking to their target that Darren Ferguson has set them, to average two points a game, and so far they're exceeding that.

Players to watch
 Striker, Matt Green, is their player to watch because he's managed to get 10 goals in league two so far this season.

New striker Shaquile Coulthirst is their main threat for assists, picking up 5 assists since he joined the Stag's in January this year.

Previous encounters
The last time we faced Mansfield it was New Year's Eve, which saw Rovers draw 1-1 with the Stags; the Rovers goal coming from Liam Mandeville.

This will be the first time Mansfield visit the Keepmoat; the last time we faced them in Doncaster was during the FA Cup 2nd round replay in December 2006 at Belle Vue, which saw Rovers win 2-0 with goals from: Mark McCammon and Paul Heffernan.

Overall, Rovers have won 20, drawn, 17 and lost 30 since 1932 against Mansfield.

Predicted lineup v Mansfield Town
Lawlor; Alcock, Butler, Baudry, Mason; McCullough, Blair, Rowe, McSheffrey; Marquis and Williams.
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After tasting defeat for the first time of the season at home on Sunday, Rovers look to get back to their winning ways with a local trip to, Grimsby Town.

Craig Alcock, has been given the ‘all clear’ for the trip to Grimsby, but midfielder, Conor Grant, is a doubt and it depends how he is Friday morning on whether he’ll be able to make it into the squad, or not. Should Grant not feature there are a few players who will be eager to take his place in the side, such as long-term absentee Luke McCullough, who returned last Sunday for the final 20 minutes. As well as McCullough, there will also be pressure from Harry Middleton, who hasn’t featured too much this campaign.

Ferguson has said ahead of this game that the squad are “enjoying the challenge” right now; even after losing to fellow title contenders Plymouth Argyle. Matty Blair also shared a similar view, but refused to comment on the future of Rovers regarding league one, saying that they’re still taking each game by game, but still states that “the goal is winning the league.”

In addition, Ferguson praised latest squad addition Alfie May for his contribution to the team and backed him saying he thinks "he's doing really well", but Ferguson did say that he has a decision on whether to 'freshen it up' upfront this weekend, so could there be a return for Andy Williams?

Head-to-heads
Grimsby have won 3 out of their last 8 games, which sees them lay 14th in Sky Bet League Two, whereas Rovers have lost 1 out of 8, with that defeat coming against second in the league, Plymouth Argyle. Grimsby haven’t been able to score many goals since the departure of Omar Bogle, with them scoring 46 goals within 39 games, whereas Rovers have scored 75 goals this term in just as many games – which sees them as best goal scorers in the league.

Players to watch
Ferguson seemed relieved at the fact that former Grimsby talisman Omar Bogle isn’t a threat anymore after completing his transfer to Wigan Athletic in January, but stated that Grimsby still pose an attacking threat with the likes of Asante, highlighting his pace as their main threat when attacking.

Their top goal scorer, however is striker Calum Dyson, with three this season. Their main provider for assists is midfielder, Tom Balarinwa, with 4 league assists this season.

Previous encounters
At  the Keepmoat back in December 2016, Grimsby were beaten by an early goal from Rovers current injured striker Liam Mandeville, as they beat the Mariners 1-0.
Last time Rovers visited Grimsby was in the Johnstones Paint Trophy in 2007, which ended in a 2-2 draw with goals from Lewis Guy and Paul Heffernan (Rovers lost this game consequently on penalties).

Overall, Rovers have won 14, drawn 9 and lost 18 since 1904, against Grimsby Town.

Predicted lineup v Grimsby Town
Lawlor; Blair, Butler, Baudry, Alcock; Mason, Middleton, Rowe, Coppinger; May and Marquis.
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by The Rovers Review

Rovers look to seek revenge after losing 2-0 away at Plymouth earlier in season, as Rovers host the Pilgrims in front of Sky cameras.

Long-term absentees Luke McCullough and Aaron Taylor-Sinclair have the all-clear to feature in games for the remainder of the season. Ferguson has even said that McCullough is in his thoughts for this game too, so could we see a return for the Northern Irish international?

After featuring off of the bench recently, Gary McSheffrey has also been declared match fit now, so he can play a full 90 minuets of a game if required. Ferguson hinted that he's a good match with Coppinger, so says it will be easy to rotate the two around during matches to keep up the energy in that attacking area of midfield.

Paul Keegan isn't close to featuring this week, but he seems to be the only current injury concern that Ferguson has.

Ferguson was also insistent that he wants to extend the gap between ourselves and Plymouth to nine points this Sunday, which help Rovers go a step closer to winning the title.

He did insist, however, that Rovers were by no means promoted or champions, until it's official, and they're taking every game until the end of the season as a 'cup final'.

Head-to-heads
Rovers are behind the likes of: Stevenage, Accrington and Blackpool in the form table - from the last 8 games - but sit 3 points ahead of their rivals, Plymouth, in that table.

Visitors Plymouth have the best away record in the league, with them picking up 36 points from 18 games on the road. On the other hand, Rovers have the best home record of the season, with them securing 45 points from 19 games at - consequently meaning that they haven't lost a game at home this season, which is something Ferguson thinks is vital for Rovers promotion campaign. One of these very good records must give in for one of the teams eventually, so could this be the match?

Player to watch
Their most pivotal player - but also their top goalscorer - is midfielder, Graham Carey, who's managed to score 12 league goals this season. Carey also leads the way for the Pilgrims with assists, having been involved in 13 goals for Plymouth this season; he didn't make it into team of the year for nothing!

Previous encounters
Earlier on in the season Plymouth were the first team to prevent Rovers from scoring in the league, when they defeated us 2-0 at their ground.

The last time Argyle came to the Keepmoat was back in both of our Championship days - 2010 - where Plymouth narrowly beat Rovers 2-1, with Rovers getting a consolation goal from veteran, James Coppinger.

Overall, Rovers have won 13, drawn 13 and lost 11 against Plymouth - in all competitions - since 1935.

Predicted lineup v Plymouth Argyle
Lawlor; Blair, Baudry, Butler, Alcock, Mason, Grant, Rowe, Coppinger; May and Marquis.
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Rovers continue their hunt for promotion as they travel to Baudry’s and Marquis’s former team, Leyton Orient.
 
After a few set-backs Liam Mandeville is available for the team, but faces fierce competition with John Marquis, who has broke break the 20-goal mark, Alfie May who's been putting in exceptional all-round performances and  Andy Williams, who finally ended his goal drought on Tuesday night. Defender Joe Wright has also returned to full-time training, so he’ll be in consideration for Ferguson’s 18 on Saturday.
 
James Coppinger will be playing 3 games within a week and Ferguson said that he’s still fit enough to feature against Orient this weekend, so the player who was man of the match last time out will still be involved against Orient.
 
Ferguson has emphasized this week to the players not to get complacent, because they shouldn’t expect a result considering its top v bottom – consequently he’s confident Rovers can set the tone of the match and not let complacency sink in.
 
Head-to-heads
The ‘O’s’ have the worst home record in league two picking up just 10 points out of a possible 57 at home. Most of their victories have come on the road to the likes of Plymouth and Newport.
 
Orient have scored 40 goals in 37 games, whereas Rovers have managed to score a scintillating 71 goals this season, in just as many games – and that’s with 9 more games still left to play.
 
Players to watch
Striker, Paul McCallum, is their biggest goal threat with 8 league goals this season. On the other hand, midfielder, Gavin Massey, has just as many goals in the league too.

Assists wise, striker, Paul McCallum leads the way for them with assists, because he's got 4 in the league this season.
 
 Previous encounters
Last time we faced Orient was in November 2016, where Rovers won 3-1 with goals from: Jordan Houghton and Liam Mandeville, and Orient getting their consolation goal from Callum Kennedy.
 
Last time we visited the Matchroom Stadium, we won 1-0 and that was in April 2015 with a goal from Rovers former defender, Rob Jones – ironically Rovers new defender, Mathieu Baudry was playing against Rovers that day!
 
Overall, Rovers have won 12, drawn 6 and lost 14 games against Leyton Orient since 1954.
 
Predicted lineup v Leyton Orient
Lawlor; Blair, Butler, Baudry, Alcock; Mason, Grant, Rowe, Coppinger; May and Marquis.
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