It doesn’t seem like two minutes since Sunderland rocked up at the Keepmoat Stadium to take on Doncaster Rovers in a game where all the focus going into it was on our manager, and the fact that the majority of supporters were calling for him to leave. It’s been a long month and boy, how things have changed - four games have gone by, Sunderland have won their last three and the players all seem to be coming into form at the perfect time.
This is an entirely different team to the one that defeated Darren Moore’s side at the end of December, and they’re looking to reduce the gap between ourselves and the top two as the promise of automatic promotion becomes more and more realistic as the weeks go by.
Rovers are in good form themselves though, winning three of their last four games.
On the influence of Nick Allamby...
Nick is someone I rate very, very highly in his role.
The proof is out on the football pitch. I can do all the talking I want about what he is going to offer us, but I think we’re not we’re starting to see that. That will continue to get better and better. Nick will have an impact not just on the first team, but throughout the club.
On signing Bailey Wright and the January window...
Very pleased, he’s an experienced Championship player. He’s a captain and an international. He’s a good signing for us. We want to remain patient and bring good players. Bailey is a player we have been looking at. He got an injury and that set the move back and the window does have these situations. We decided to wait for the one we wanted, and that’s what we did with Bailey.
On “proving people wrong”...
I think it’s a combination of things. It’s picking the same team for a number weeks and getting that cohesion and everyone knowing their roles. Work on the training pitch has been very beneficial for the group. The fitness level has gone up a lot and it’s been shown in games.
The spirit in the group is growing all the time and there’s a real determination. We’ve got a lot of good young players and sometimes we even have to hold them back on the training pitch, which is great.
Obviously, we’ve only just started the progress we’re looking to make as a team. We’re getting better. There’s work to be done. I didn’t get to low when I was getting criticised, and equally it goes the other way. We’re just keeping very focus and improving the players individually and collectively.
Phil Parkinson has a fully fit squad at his disposal but, barring one or two potential changes, we’re likely to see a side similar to the one that started against MK Dons.
Tom Flanagan was only fit enough for a place at the bench at stadium:MK, and was replaced in the starting line up by Joel Lynch. However, the loan signing of Bristol City captain Bailey Wright this week means Parkinson has plenty of choice when it comes to picking his back three.
January signing Kyle Lafferty made an impression when he came off the bench for his Sunderland debut last weekend and will hope to start the game ahead of Charlie Wyke.
View From The Opposition
As stated above, Sunderland are not the only team to go on a great run since the last meeting between the two clubs, with Moore’s side beating Oxford United, Shrewsbury Town and Bristol Rovers throughout January - although last week’s 1-0 home defeat to Coventry City has them stuck ninth in League One.
There’s been no movement in the transfer market as yet for Donny, although it appears Moore is becoming frustrated with the furore that surrounding the January window:
Everybody will speculating to accumulate.
Let’s talk with reality. Let’s talk with the facts.
As and when they happen, we can talk reality and facts.
A win for Doncaster tonight would take them to eighth in the table, one point behind Sunderland, whereas a defeat by more than three goals would see them drop to tenth.
Venue: Stadium of Light, Sunderland
Current position: 9th
Last season position: 6th (lost in play-off semi-finals)
Last 5 results:
(L1) MK Dons (A) 1-0
(L1) Wycombe Wanderers (H) 4-0
(L1) Lincoln City (H) 3-1
(L1) Fleetwood Town (A) 1-1
(L1) Doncaster Rovers (A) 2-1
(L1) Coventry City (H) 0-1
(L1) Bristol Rovers (A) 2-0
(L1) Shrewsbury Town (H) 2-0
(L1) Oxford United (H) 1-0
(L1) Sunderland (H) 1-2
Donny on Wearside
19 Apr 2019 (L1) Sunderland 2-0 Doncaster Rovers (Morgan, Wyke)
01 Jan 1988 (D3) Sunderland 3-1 Doncaster Rovers (Gabbiadini, Lemon 2)
09 Jan 1954 (FAC) Sunderland 0-2 Doncaster Rovers
Top goalscorers (in all competitions)
8 - Kieran Sadlier
5 - Jon Taylor
5 - Benjamin Whiteman
4 - James Coppingers
3 - Kwame Thomas
Last Time We Met
Ironically, the last time Sunderland played on a Friday was against Doncaster Rovers in a game where Jack Ross’ side produced one of their best displays of the season at a gloriously sunny Stadium of Light. With a win essential to keep our automatic promotion hopes alive, loanee Lewis Morgan smashed in a seventh minute opener, before Charlie Wyke nodded in just after the half-hour mark.
Ross sprung a huge surprise when he dropped both Jack Baldwin and Tom Flanagan for fringe players Jimmy Dunne and Alim Ozturk, but he was rewarded for his bravery with a resolute defensive display that kept League One top scorer, John Marquis, under wraps.
Morgan’s emphatic opener took the roof off the Stadium of Light, as he volleyed home following good play from Aiden McGeady and Wyke, whilst Wyke got one of his own when Dunne reacted to a cross quicker than Doncaster ‘keeper Marosi, leaving the former Bradford City man to tap in from two yards out.
The result put Sunderland third, two points behind Barnsley with a game in-hand, whilst Doncaster remained in sixth.