WHILE One Direction may have been all the rage at the Keepmoat this week, Doncaster Rovers have been heading in the wrong direction on their travels this season.
Louis Tomlinson, fresh from picking up an award alongside his band-mates at the Brits, made his professional debut for Rovers during a development squad match with Rotherham on Wednesday.
Having signed for his hometown club on non-contract terms in August, the 22-year-old’s appearance in front of a crowd of around 5,000 helped raise funds for the Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice.
Tomlinson joined Rovers in a blaze of publicity just a month before Brett Pitman had netted to secure Cherries’ first away win of the season at the Keepmoat at the end of August.
Four weeks later, Manchester United loan star Federico Macheda bagged the only goal of the game as Rovers chalked up their first victory on the road at Sheffield Wednesday.
Since then, Paul Dickov’s men have suffered a nasty bout of travel sickness after returning home empty-handed on nine occasions and collecting just three points from 12 games from draws at Barnsley (0-0), Birmingham (1-1) and Blackpool (1-1).
Rovers arrive at Dean Court having registered two Championship victories – both 3-0 wins at home to Wigan and Charlton in January – from their past 15 games, with 11 points taken during the run.
Goals have certainly been a problem for Dickov’s team with Chris Brown leading the charts with six and Theo Robinson on five. Their cause against Cherries will not be helped as Southampton striker Billy Sharp, on loan with Rovers, serves the last of a three-match ban.
Defeat at Yeovil six days ago, where Doncaster old boy James Hayter won the day for the Glovers from the penalty spot, made it 15 out of 16 games on the road without a win.
Following the reverse, Dickov said: “Away from home, it is about being compact as a team. More often than not, we have been good at that.
“When we play, we work hard to win back the ball and we press teams. When we do that, it is important we keep the ball. We shouldn’t be trying to score off the first pass and then end up giving it straight back.”
A trip to Dorset will see a South Africa reunion for Cherries striker Tokelo Rantie with Doncaster pair Dean Furman and Bongani Khumalo.
Midfielder Furman and defender Khumalo will join Rantie for the trip to Johannesburg following the clash to start preparing for Bafana’s friendly against Brazil on Wednesday.
Rantie, who signed for Cherries from Malmo just days before the trip to the Keepmoat in August but did not face his countrymen, said: “It will be good to see them both. Dean was really helpful when I was deciding what to do because he told me exactly how things were. It is totally different to South Africa and Sweden. Here, they focus on every aspect of the game and you get the chance to assess yourself in every area.”