Hird bids to rock the boat

Flashback: Doncaster Rovers defender Sam Hird in action in the 2-1 defeat at Blackpool in mid-October.                             Picture: Steve uttley
Flashback: Doncaster Rovers defender Sam Hird in action in the 2-1 defeat at Blackpool in mid-October. Picture: Steve uttley

DONCASTER Rovers had Blackpool rocking for over an hour when the two sides met at Bloomfield Road in October.

The Seasiders needed a late winner by substitute Tom Ince, the son of former Manchester United star Paul Ince, to secure the spoils.

Striker Billy Sharp gave Rovers a deserved first-half lead subsequently cancelled out by an Ince equaliser on 63 minute.

He then hit an unstoppable winner in stoppage time to send Rovers home empty-handed.

“I thought that we played well on the night and to be fair I thought we deserved a draw,” said centre-back Sam Hird, who was starting his first game under new manager Dean Saunders.

“I thought both teams played well on the night and it could have gone either way. Their winner was a great goal but it was a bit of a sickener on the day.

“They’re a good team and they are obviously going to have their fair share of possession and attacking play tonight.

“As I say, they’ve got some good attacking players and they are always going to cause problems with players such as Kevin Phillips, Ince and Matt Phillips and Gary Taylor-Fletcher.

“They also have the option to change their strikers, as they did at Bloomfield Road when they brought three fresh players on just before the hour mark.

“But it is not just going forward where they have impressed. They have looked solid at the back all season as well and I wouldn’t bet against them getting back into the Premier League.

“We are certainly going to have to be on the top of our game tonight if we were are going to pick up the three points.

“Fortunately we are playing well at home and we are going into games at the Keepmoat with a lot of confidence.

“We’ve also got a more settled back-four than we had when we last played them and I think that we are better organised defensively as a team. We know that we can score goals and we just need to keep it tight defensively at the back and try and keep a clean sheet.”

Not only is Hird, one of the first names on manager Saunders’ team-sheet these days, looking forward to doing battle against Ian Holloway’s men, but also to making the short trip to Elland Road at the end of the week.

Hird spent a number of years at the West Yorkshire club, coming up through the junior ranks prior to joining his hometown club in the 2006-07 season.

“I always look forward to trying to get one over my former club,” he said.

“Obviously when I first joined Rovers the games against Leeds were probably the two I most looked forward to playing in, but not anymore.

“Although I’m looking forward to going back to Elland Road it is just like any other game in that we just want to go there and pick up three points. At the moment we are just focusing on Blackpool.”

Teams and ref

ROVERS (possible): Button, O’Connor, Hird, Lockwood, Spurr, Bamogo, Stock, Gillett, M Woods, Diouf, Hayter (4-4-3).

BLACKPOOL (possible): Gilks, Baptiste, Cathcart, Wilson, Crainey, Ferguson, Basham, LuaLua, Ince, K Phillips, Bednar, (4-3-3).

Gary sutton (Lincolnshire): Has dished out 75 bookings and eight red cards in 25 games this season.

One to watch

Lomano LuaLua is an unpredictable striker and has claimed three goals in his last six appearances. He can conjure a goal out of nothing. A transfer target for Sheffield Wednesday earlier on in the season, LuaLua possesses the vision and skill to unlock tight defences.

History lesson

Rovers will be looking to avenge their unlucky 2-1 loss at Bloomfield Road in October. The visitors led 1-0 for 63 minutes courtesy of Billy Sharp’s strike before Tom Ince, the son of former Manchester United and England star Paul, intervened. The talented winger hit two goals, including a last minute winner. Blackpool, one of the form teams in the division, are unbeaten in nine matches and have not lost in 2012.