League One Match Preview: Ipswich (H)
Doncaster Rovers begin a run of tough Tuesday night games with a home fixture against table-topping Ipswich, fresh off the back of a good win away at Portsmouth. The circumstances surrounding the season necessitate so many two-game weeks and Darren Moore knows he will have to rely on his squad heavily to get through to get through them, but momentum is with Rovers right now and they will surely ride that wave for as long as they can.
Conventional Needs Must for Rovers
After deploying Reece James as a makeshift winger on Saturday, Darren Moore saw the reward in his risk as James netted the winning goal to sink Portsmouth and propel Rovers back up the League One table. Moore explained that he felt the move would suit his team for the game and he was proven right, but a return to the starting line-up for conventional wide player Jason Lokilo looks on the cards for the Ipswich game, as the Belgian is now nearer to full fitness, or a first start for Josh Sims after his excellent cameo on debut.
Fejiri Okenabirhie put in a solid if unspectacular display at Fratton Park too and will likely continue as the main striker thanks to the continued absence of Tyreece John-Jules, who will be out for a couple of weeks with the thigh injury he picked up on international duty. Okenabirhie must now prove himself in front of goal and justify the disgruntlement amongst fans that he had been left out for the first few league games of the season. He will be ably assisted by Lokilo and James Coppinger as well as Jon Taylor, who has overcome the stomach problem that led him to go off on Saturday.
Adaptable Ipswich Present Stern Test
The Tractor Boys are flying high at the top of League One with five wins and a draw from their opening six games, but are going through something of a striker crisis with Oli Hawkins missing Saturday’s win over Accrington due to injury, Kayden Jackson isolating due to Covid-19 protocols and James Norwood out long-term. Indeed, the entire Ipswich squad is being tested ahead of their trip to the Keepmoat Stadium so there could be other gaps in the team, although the talent running right through this squad makes life easier for manager Paul Lambert.
Freddie Sears has made a solid start to the campaign with three goals but is not really a line-leader, however he will be ably assisted by Gwion Edwards and Alan Judge. The veteran Judge is a supremely talented forward with bags of experience at Championship level, and he will be able to create from anywhere if given the opportunity. Although the defence is without the injured Stephen Ward, there is plenty of experience between captain Luke Chambers and central defensive duo James Wilson and Aristote Nsiala, meaning a formidable unit for Rovers to try and break through.
Winger Gwion Edwards has surpassed Rovers midfielder Madger Gomes as the division’s top scorer, netting his 5th goal of the season on Saturday, and his threat will be a key focus for Darren Moore to plan for. The task of nullifying the Welshman will likely fall on Reece James, fresh off his match-winning performance at Portsmouth but expected to fulfill a more typical defensive role in this game. If Ipswich are still without any of their recognised main strikers on Tuesday night then Edwards becomes more of a focal point and James’ task becomes that much trickier.
These two sides only met once last season thanks to the season being curtailed, with their meeting at the Keepmoat originally intended to take place on the penultimate weekend. They shared a 0-0 draw at Portman Road last September, a result which snapped a four match winning streak for Ipswich stretching back to 2012.
Rovers last defeated the Tractor Boys in a Championship fixture on Bonfire Night in 2011 as El-Hadji Diouf netted twice in a 3-2 away win, whilst it has been almost 12 years since the last win for the home side at the Keepmoat, when a header from Shelton Martis settled things in front of the Sky cameras for a Rovers team desperate for points under Sean O’Driscoll after promotion to the second tier.