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by Paul Williams

We all wish Keshi Anderson a swift and full recovery following serious injury but the young striker has returned to parent club Crystal Palace to begin his recuperation and that leaves Darren Ferguson short of options ahead of this evening's game with Chesterfield.

Saturday's defeat by Rochdale was all the more disappointing in that Rovers had chances to win the game and the visitors had clearly set out their stall to take a point before scoring twice on the break in the last 10 minutes.

Preparations for the visit of the Spireites and former Rovers manager Dean Saunders have been hampered by a sickness bug that's sweeping through the club. It forced Richie Wellens to miss Saturday's match and several of his team-mates have also been under the weather. Richard Chaplow and Curtis Main are still on the treatment table but there is a chance that Mitchell Lund and Luke McCullough could be involved in some capacity this evening as their team look to get back on track.

Chesterfield are only one place and three points above Rovers in the table and are proving hard to predict. They are generally better on the road, however, and veteran striker Sylvan Ebanks-Blake has been among the goals. But Saunders' team have lost three of their last four and have been conceding too many goals. Former Rovers defender Sam Hird has been filling in at right-back lately but could return to his more favoured position at the heart of the defence at the Keepmoat, where Chesterfield were beaten 3-2 last season – a repeat of that scoreline would be very welcome.
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by Paul Williams

Rovers haven't lost to Rochdale in seven meetings and the form book is firmly in favour of Darren Ferguson's men as they return to Keepmoat Stadium following last week's dominating performance at Blackpool.

Doncaster have won four of their six outings under the new manager while 'Dale are without a victory in seven League One fixtures and have drawn a blank in four of those.

Rover's new formation seems to suit their personnel and they've won their last three by the same 2-0 scoreline. Andy Williams has rediscovered his confidence and has scored four times in those three wins, helped by the return to fitness of Nathan Tyson. With Keshi Anderson ready and waiting in the wings to add to Rovers' threat, teams are struggling to cope and it's got fans believing that a play-off push or better this season is still possible. Luke McCullough will return to the squad after captaining Northern Ireland U21s last week but Richard Chaplow, Rob Jones, Gary MacKenzie, Paul Keegan and Curtis Main are all likely to miss out again.

Rochdale have signed Manchester United reserve goalkeeper Joel Castro Pereira on loan for a second time and he could replace Josh Lillis at the Keepmoat. But Keith Hill may again have to do without Matty Lund, Jamie Allen and Reuben Noble-Lazarus.

'Dale's resources are being stretched and this looks a great opportunity for Rovers to continue their forward momentum on a day when a number of the club's legends will be in attendance to see the unfurling of new banners by the Black Bank, marking their lasting contribution to Rovers in the South Stand.
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by Adam Stubbings

Back to back wins and a few new arrivals mean things are suddenly looking up for Rovers as the Darren Ferguson Era begins to take hold. Steps have been taken to bolster the defence in the past fortnight, whilst Conor Grant has settled well into a new-look midfield that appears to be giving Harry Middleton the chance to cement himself in the first team. Nathan Tyson may be lucky to keep his place on the visit to his former club after failing to find the net despite a hatful of chances in the last two games, with the returning Keshi Anderson competing for a place alongside Andy Williams up front.

The performances have improved game on game since that dreadful and deserved result away at Peterborough in the pouring rain last month, and the adopting of a new formation and new personnel have enabled Darren Ferguson to find his feet and endear himself to the Rovers faithful since his protracted arrival.

Last weekend's victory over Stalybridge saw us advance to Round 2 of the F.A. Cup, whilst Blackpool fell by the wayside in the 1st Round with a 2-0 defeat away to League Two new boys Barnet. The Tangerines followed up that embarrassing result by taking a 4-0 beating at Wigan in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy on Tuesday night, their fourth successive defeat in all competitions that leaves them almost back at square one following a mini-revival sparked by a five match unbeaten run in the league that hauled them off the foot of the table and out of the relegation zone.

Don't be fooled by their recent dip though, this will be a tough test for a Rovers team struggling to find their feet away from home. Blackpool are actually unbeaten in five home games stretching back to a drubbing at the hands of League One pacesetters Walsall at the end of August, with the recent run of defeats all coming away from home. Neil McDonald's side will be relieved to be back on home turf by the sea, and with Rovers suffering bleak defeats at Peterborough and Millwall on their last two road trips, Blackpool may go into the contest as slight favourites despite being two places lower in the table.

The last eight meetings between the two sides all took place in the Championship, with our opponents unbeaten in six including four victories, with one of the two draws being a memorable 3-3 contest at the Keepmoat which saw Jay Emmanuel-Thomas strike sublime individual effort for Blackpool. You have to wonder if that performance is what eventually led to him signing for us later  that season.

Our last victory over the Seasiders came at Bloomfield Road the previous season, an eventful 3-2 victory which saw recent record breaker James Coppinger net the winning goal after débutante Charlie Adam had been sent off for the home side. Adam would of course go on to play an integral role in Blackpool's rise to the Premier League over the following 15 months, capped by scoring a superb free kick in the Play Off Final victory over Cardiff.

Rovers may welcome Keshi Anderson back to the starting line-up, and with Andy Williams back in goalscoring and new signings Felipe Mattioni and Craig Alcock set for league debuts at the back, there is reason for optimism and belief that we can come away from the seaside on Saturday with only a second away win of the season.
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by Paul Williams

It was almost 14 years ago to the day that we last played Stalybridge Celtic in Doncaster. That was, of course, at Belle Vue and the Conference fixture came amidst another period of uncertainty for Rovers with John Ryan having just resigned as chairman in an ongoing row with DMBC over the building of a new stadium.

JR was to return, of course, and oversee not only one of the most successful periods in the club's history but also the development of the Keepmoat.

We lost that Conference game, by the way, but there will be no excuses if we fail to put away the National League North side this weekend in the first round of the FA Cup.

Like all League 1 and League 2 teams, Rovers wouldn't turn their noses up at a cup run with the chance of a money-spinner in round three, though some would argue the glamour of the FA Cup is not what it was. Stalybridge have beaten the mighty Kendal, Chasetown and North Ferriby to get this far in the competition but needed a couple of replays and a penalty shoot-out against the latter and were thumped 5-0 at Fylde last Saturday in the league.

I remember us once losing an FA Trophy match against Frickley so I'm not going to say this is a gimme for Rovers, despite the obvious gulf in class. We made pretty hard work of putting away Bradford Park Avenue in a similar contest at this stage in 2012 and our defence is still a work in progress. But Darren Ferguson will want to follow up last week's win over Colchester with another victory so won't make unnecessary changes. It might be a couple of days late for real fireworks but a few goals in the opposition's net would help ramp up the feelgood factor ahead of a more tricky test at Blackpool next week.
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