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Reading - Doncaster Rovers (Championship) - Match Preview

A nice holiday for the majority of the Reading squad - or rather, two weeks to knuckle down and get set for another push towards the promised land. Doncaster Rovers will be no pushovers, but this match certainly comes under the veil of "should-win".

Charlie Crowhurst

Form Guide

Reading Doncaster Rovers
L 1-2 Burnley (A) W 1-0 Leicester City (H)
D 1-1 Barnsley (A) L 0-2 Burnley (H)
W 2-0 Birmingham City (H) W 1-0 Sheffield Wednesday (A)
W 3-1 Derby County (A) D 2-2 Nottm Forest (H)
W 1-0 Leeds United (H) L 1-2 Watford (A)
D 0-0 Brighton (H) D 0-0 Huddersfield (A)
W 1-0 Yeovil (A) L 0-1 Bournemouth (A)
7th - 19 points, GD +5 17th - 12 points, GD-2

That tight loss away at Turf Moor was Reading's first League loss since going down away at Blackpool in the middle of August - since then it had been six games unbeaten. Burnley are clearly the form side in the division at the moment though, with the best goal difference and joint-most points in the Championship. Hopefully, a two-week break will be just enough to refresh the injury-ravaged Royals and re-discover the form which saw us pick up 14 points from 18.

And Donny aren't doing too badly either, especially when you consider that they've played one game less than much of the division. 17th is a cracking start for Paul Dickov's side, who have beaten Leicester, Sheffield Wednesday and Blackburn en route to 12 points from 10 matches. They're not too shabby on the road either, with one win (Sheff Wed), two draws (Huddersfield and Wigan) and just one loss (Watford). This will be tougher than most Reading fans think.

Head To Head

The good signs are there for the Royals - in forty meetings over the years, Doncaster have won just four matches. Reading have claimed 27 victories, with 9 being draws. The home record for Reading is even better, with a 16-2-2 record in the twenty matches played in the Royal County.

We played Donny 8 times between 2008 and 2012 in the Championship, and the Royals were unbeaten in all of those contests, winning six and drawing two. You have to go back to 1984 for the last time Doncaster were victorious, recording a 4-1 win at Elm Park. In 2011/12 Reading recorded a 2-0 win at the Mad Stad in September with goals from Simon Church and Adam Le Fondre, whilst the away leg saw Donny end our 8-game winning streak with a 1-1 draw at the Keepmoat.

Team News

As I've said many times, I always struggle with these predictions, and it really doesn't help that Nigel Adkins has said he won't release any injury news. Come on Nige, cut me some slack?! We know that Mikele Leigertwood, Jason Roberts and Jem Karacan will all definitely miss the match, but there are a lot of doubts too.

Royston Drenthe, Danny Williams, Garath McCleary, Danny Guthrie and Billy Sharp have all been battling ailments, and so we (and probably Nigel too) won't know for sure who's available until the morning of the match. Still, it's all about squad depth. Jordan Obita has shown he can perform at this level, whilst Jobi McAnuff, Nick Blackman and Jake Taylor are all waiting in the wings too should their services be required.

Luckily for Reading, Federico Macheda has been forced to head back to Manchester United for treatment on his hamstring injury, whilst a couple of other players are likely to miss out in Harry Forrester and James Husband. Bongani Khumalo is likely to get a few claps when his name is read out. Just a few, mind.

Likely Lineups

Reading: McCarthy; Gunter, Pearce, Morrison, Bridge; McAnuff, Guthrie, Baird, Robson-Kanu; Le Fondre, Pogrebnyak

Doncaster: Turnbull; Jones, Khumalo, Quinn, Wabara; Keegan, Furman, Duffy, Robinson; Brown, Paynter

The Ref

Andy D'Urso is the man tasked with penning the next Great American Novel with his match report post-game. He actually took charge of one Reading match last season, during our 3-2 win over Peterborough in the Capital One Cup. Whilst that match only saw one yellow card, he waved seven in Doncaster's 1-1 draw at Crawley later in the season in League One.

Best Odds

Reading 7/10

Draw 3/1

Doncaster 19/4

The Tilehurst End Prediction

Regular listeners to our podcast will know that I've long highlighted this match as the time we "absolutely smash" a team. However, that was before I'd actually seen how relatively well Doncaster have done this season. They're solid away from home, and we're certainly in the midst of a minor injury crisis. But with the available players, I think we're still strong enough to record a relatively comfortable 2-0 victory.