Hartlepool v Doncaster Rovers: MATCH CENTRE including team news, talking tactics and opposition view

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VICTORIA Park may be one of the wettest and windiest venues in England - but it has hardly been raining goals there this season.

Despite boasting Geordie targetman Steve Howard in their ranks, struggling Pools have found the net just nine times in ten League One games this term.

But just in time for the visit of Doncaster, they have boosted their forward options with yet another loan signing from one of their north east neighbours.

Teenage striker Charlie Wyke was recruited from Middlesbrough this week, just days after the arrival of Sunderland’s England Under 19 forward Ryan Noble.

Wyke and Noble might be lightweight in the extreme but they know where the goals are, and their fleet-footedness could cause problems for Rob Jones and Shelton Martis.

With Howard up top, the home side won’t be shy of going direct in search of the former Leicester man.

With Chris Brown likely to return to the Rovers side after he was rested for the visit of Shrewsbury, there will be a temptation for the away side to follow suit.

But, conducted by James Harper, Doncaster were far more effective during the first half against the Shrews when they got the ball down and played through the opposition.

Nobody, however, is about to argue with Rovers’ away record this season.

An off day at Yeovil aside, they have perfected the art of setting up two banks of four, defending doggedly and taking their chances at the other end in clinical fashion.

Pools won’t be short of effort this weekend. They’re a youthful side, full of energy and endeavour.

But Doncaster’s extra quality should see them continue their excellent away form.


Shelton Martis is a major doubt for Rovers.

The defender felt his hamstring in last Saturday’s 1-0 win over Shrewsbury - and Dean Saunders may opt not to risk him.

Tommy Spurr will continue at centre back if Martis misses out.

James Harper is likely to be recalled to the midfield engine room at the expense of Martin Woods, while Chris Brown is almost certain to regain his place in the starting line-up.

Probable Rovers line-up (4-4-2): Woods; Quinn, Jones, Spurr, Husband; Cotterill, Harper, Syers, Bennett; Brown, Paynter.


Hartlepool boss Neale Cooper said he was “hurting” after his side lost on penalties to Bradford City in the JPT this week.

Cooper said: “I’m gutted, I wanted to do well in this competition, it could have helped us.

“We thought it could kick-start things after a bad run of results.

“I’ve got to lift myself again now because it hurts. If it didn’t hurt I should not be in football.

“But we will fight on. I’ve always done that and always will.”

Struggling Pools have picked up just two points from their last seven games in League One.

Match odds: Hartlepool 8/5 Draw 11/5 Rovers 8/5

Hartlepool’s last game: Bradford (h) 0-0

Head to Head: Rovers wins 36, Pools wins 33, draws 27.