• Adam Stubbings

ITEN Match Preview: Grimsby (A)

It was Kieran Sadlier to the rescue again as a late, leaping header maintained Darren Moore’s unbeaten start to life in the Doncaster Rovers dugout on Saturday, the makeshift centre forward’s injury time goal earning a 1-1 draw with Rochdale. The games come thick and fast at the start of the season and that can only be a good thing for a squad still coming together and beginning to understand one another out on the pitch.

Next up is a trip to the seaside as Grimsby Town host our 1st Round clash in the Carabao Cup tonight. The temptation when facing lower league opposition in these early rounds is to rotate the team and experiment, but Darren Moore may wish to resist that urge at Blundell Park as he goes in search of a first competitive win as Rovers boss.

Building Momentum

Sadlier’s last-gasp goal can put the wind behind the sails of our early season push and a strong victory over League Two opposition would do the world of good, but chopping and changing the bulk of the team could scupper this. Aside from the fact we are short on available options in a couple of key areas – up front and in central defence – the senior match experience could greatly benefit the newer players to gel together. In early round ties against lower level opposition last season, Moore combined a healthy mix of senior first-teamers and development players at West Brom, but the lack of stability in our squad at present means we don’t have that luxury.

The ankle injury suffered by Alex Baptiste at Rochdale necessitates at least one change in defence, and it could be a headache for Moore with Joe Wright yet to return to full fitness. This game would be the ideal opportunity to give Cameron John his senior debut if not for the fact John himself missed the squad on Saturday due to a knock, but he trained yesterday and will hopefully be able to come in. A competitive debut for fellow loanee Seny Dieng in goal would also be a smart move to get a look at him in a proper match environment.

Elsewhere, change should be minimal, although a chance to try an alternative attacking front could benefit if the search to fill the John Marquis shaped hole drags on into another week. Giving Niall Ennis the chance to the lead line would afford him vital minutes and give Kieran Sadlier opportunity to revert to his favoured attacking midfield role. A run-out at #10 for Sadlier in place of James Coppinger, sure to be rested for this one, would present a fresh combination and would allow Jon Taylor to make his full debut on the right hand side, taking responsibility away from Madger Gomes after a tough outing for the Spaniard at Spotland.

Enforced Changes for Mariners

Grimsby have made a solid start to their campaign, earning 4 points from games away at Morecambe and at home to promotion favourites Bradford. Michael Jolley has kept the same XI for both league outings so far but will be forced into alterations due to injury even before he considers experimenting with his side. The Mariners lost defender Ludvig Ohman and winger Ahkeem Rose to injury at the weekend. The obvious replacements are the two players who replaced them in that game, youth graduate Matty Pollock and Swedish forward Moses Ogbu, a pair of players who Rovers got a good look at when they started the pre-season friendly between the two sides last month.

With Harry Cardwell still on the injured list, Jolley could turn to either Charles Vernam or Jordan Cook to complement the vast experience and strength of James Hanson and Matt Green up front, as they look to spring a surprise. Jake Hessenthaler will be the beating heart of the midfield if he keeps his place, and Moore will have to be wary of the side’s roving full backs regardless of who is selected, with Sebastian Ring pushing to replace vice-captain Luke Hendrie at left back and Elliott Hewitt, who like Ring is a converted midfielder with the confidence to push on, expected to start at right back.

It is sure to be a tough evening for the Rovers against a game Grimsby side, and any notion of a repeat of our last senior competitive meeting – a 5-1 drubbing by the seaside as Rovers closed on promotion in 2016/17 – is almost certainly out of the question. One good omen though is that Grimsby are the side that Rovers have beaten most frequently in the League Cup, with four victories between 1961 and 2003.

Likely Line-Ups