City can now “concentrate on the league” after bowing out of both the FA Cup and the Checkatrade Trophy in the last week, the performances in both have given rise to some optimism that Paul Tisdale’s side can finally start to pick up some points at home although next up is a very tough test where the big story will be the return of a City favourite. There’s no good news in the immediate term around City’s continued lengthy injury list, the only player possibly set to return is Luke Croll, who suffered nasty concussion in the win at Morecambe. Tisdale has a dilemma in goal as Bobby Olejnik and James Hamon fight for the place vacated by the injured Christy Pym, while City supporters who attended on Tuesday night were treated to the sight of Robbie Simpson doing a half in defence. Ethan Ampadu put in another MOM display in his first start in midfield against Luton but he’s away on international duty.
Having been somewhat surprisingly relegated last season, Doncaster have made an excellent start to life back in the basement as they seek an immediate return. That said it has been nearly a month since Darren Ferguson’s side tasted victory and, like City, they bowed out of the FA Cup last weekend. Key to their fortunes, and making a welcome return to his former home ground for the first time since the 04/05 FA Cup, is Doncaster’s record appearance holder James Coppinger. Copps, now 35, is still as twinkle-toed as ever and has contributed six goals to the cause, just behind joint top scorers John Marquis and Andy Williams with seven.
Said FA Cup match was the last time the sides met, and it was a match that went down in folklore as City’s famous 2-1 victory over their visitors from two divisions above clinched the draw with Manchester United in the third round. City’s goals that day came from Steve Flack and, from the halfway line, Dean Moxey, before Gregg Blundell ensured a nervy finish. The last league encounter was back in Doncaster’s annus horribilis of 97/98 – City won 1-0 at their former Belle Vue ground (Rowbotham) before an emphatic 5-1 win at the Park (Rowbotham 2, Flack, Illman and Fry for City, Pemberton for Doncaster). It’s the visitors, however, who hold the overall Football League head to head lead with 21 wins to City’s 16 (five draws).
Referee: Charles Breakspear
Assistant Referees: Timothy Wood and Mark Pottage
Fourth Official Simon Long
Breakspear has refereed Exeter five times, the most recent being Mansfield at home in April.