PREVIEW: Doncaster Rovers v Luton Town

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Doncaster Rovers have made themselves firm favourites to go up automatically this term after stringing together a superb and sustained level of form over the past few months.

On losing at Kenilworth Road in September, Rovers, who came down from League One last term, have swept almost all before them aside, with just three league defeats in that time, a run spanning 22 games.

They have been putting some mightily impressive sequences on the board too, with four straight wins in November/December ended by a 2-0 defeat at title rivals Plymouth, only for Rovers to hit back with seven victories from eight, including five in a row during December and January.

The last three games have seen Darren Ferguson’s side hit the slightest of roadblocks, losing to Carlisle on Tuesday night, a first league defeat for 10 games, and also held to draws by Newport County and Morecambe, making it their worst run in the league this season.

However, they still very much have their destiny in their own hands, some 11 points clear of the Hatters, who occupy four spot in the table and boss Ferguson certainly wasn’t panicking after the midweek reverse at Carlisle either.

He told the club’s official website: “I didn’t see much wrong with our performance in the first half, we created chances, we got in the places that I wanted us to but we were not clinical enough.

“We don’t like losing games and we haven’t lost for a while, so it’s a feeling that we don’t want to repeat.”

Rovers home form has been superb, easily the best in the division thus far, with no-one able to defeat them at the Keepmoat Stadium yet, the hosts winning 11 and drawing four.

Deadline day passed quietly for Ferguson too, although during the window, he did add forward Alfie May from Hythe Town, plus Man City keeper Ian Lawlor for an undisclosed fee.

Midfielder Conor Grant rejoined Doncaster Rovers on loan from Everton too, with Chelsea midfielder Jordan Houghton extending his stay until the end of the season.

Team news: Luton have a nearly full fit squad, with only Cameron McGeehan (broken leg), Dan Potts (knee), Danny Green (leg) and Akin Famewo (tendinitis) missing.

For Doncaster, Mathieu Baudry returned to training yesterday and could be fit, while fellow centre half Andy Butler is available after recovering from a sickness bug.

Forward Gary McSheffrey is fit again but not yet ready to start a game.

Top scorers: Hatters - Danny Hylton (18). Rovers - James Marquis (18).

Man in the middle: Darren Deadman - hugely experienced official who is now in his 14th season. Has shown 122 yellows in 34 games with seven reds so far, including dismissing Glen Rea during Luton’s 2-1 FA Cup defeat at Accrington.

Refereed Hatters one other time this term, the 2-1 home defeat to Grimsby Town, while also had the whistle once for Town last season, the 1-0 home win over Morecambe.

Has officiated Hatters on four other occasions, the 1-1 draw with Portsmouth in December 2014, plus a 1-0 Johnstone’s Paint Trophy win at Walsall and 4-2 home defeat to Rotherham during the 2008-09 campaign.

Also sent off Alan Goodall in a 3-1 defeat at Brighton in League One the season before.

Referee’s assistants are Danny Gratton and Bob Roberts, with the fourth official Mark Jones.

In charge: Darren Ferguson - 45-year-old, who started life at Manchester United under his father Sir Alex Ferguson in 1990, but it was away from Old Trafford he made his name, playing for Wolves, Sparta Rotterdam and then Wrexham, making over 300 appearances for the Welsh side.

Left the Racecourse Ground in January 2007 to become player manager of Peterborough United, taking Posh from League Two to the Championship, before leaving in November 2009.

Appointed Preston North End manager in January 2010, but was sacked in December and then returned to Peterborough in January 2011, clinching promotion to the Championship via the play-offs.

Enjoyed two seasons in the second tier before dropping back to League One again as Ferguson left London Road once more in February 2015.

Named as Doncaster boss in October 2015 and although he couldn’t prevent Rovers dropping into League Two, has made them into serious title contenders this term.

View from the opposition: Darren Ferguson talking to the Rovers official website: “It will be a good game, Luton, they are a good team and we will just have to pick ourselves up again (after Carlisle defeat) and try and extend that gap to 14 points.

“We are in a good position, if someone would have offered me top spot, 11 points clear of fourth I would have bitten their hand off.

“The atmosphere will be brilliant, they always travel well and it will be a good game that I am looking forward to.”

Friendly faces: Attacker Gary McSheffrey signed for Doncaster on a one-year contract in the summer, although is yet to feature for the club this term after suffering a knee injury in October.

The 34-year-old had two loan spells at Luton from Coventry in August 2003 to December 2003, where he netted nine times in 19 games and returned in September 2004 for a month, scoring once in five games.

Left the Sky Blues to join Birmingham for £4.4million in August 2006 and went on to play for the likes of Nottingham Forest, Leeds, Coventry again and Chesterfield, before settling at Scunthorpe for two seasons.

Loaned to Doncaster last year, scoring once in seven matches and then joined in the summer.

Played for both: Kerry Dixon, 55-year-old former striker, who made his name at Chelsea, earning eight England caps and scoring well over 100 goals while at Stamford Bridge.

Moved to Luton in 1993, scoring 20 goals in 88 games over two seasons until joining Millwall and then Watford before appointed as player manager at Doncaster in 1996, scoring three goals in 16 games, but was sacked in August 1997.

Had spells in charge of Hitchin and Dunstable, while now does some punditry work for television and radio.

One to watch: John Marquis. 24-year-old striker has been in superb form this season for Rovers, netting 18 goals in 30 League Two matches to sit third in the division’s scoring charts.

Signing on a free in the summer, it took Marquis three games to get off the mark, as he began with five goals in his first 15 games.

Since then though, Marquis has been in a rich vein of form, including going on a run of scoring in five successive games to approach the magic 20-goal mark.

Started life at Millwall before a number of loans spells with the likes of Portsmouth, Torquay, Cheltenham and Gillingham while he netted six times in 15 games for champions Northampton last term too.

We’ve got form: Hatters haven’t left Doncaster with that winning feeling for over 60 years, with their last victory coming back in April 1955 when Peter MacEwan (2) and Jim Pemberton were on target.

In fairness, they have only played five times since then, putting their overall record since matches began in 1947, to three wins, three draws and five defeats, scoring 15 and conceding 18, although five of those came in a 5-2 defeat back in 1951.

Last time out: Doncaster Rovers enjoyed a 2-0 win in their last home meeting against Luton, a League One clash in April 2008.

Matt Mills opened the scoring in the 34th minute, with Mark McCammon (82) ensuring Hatters were to return home empty-handed.

Hatters: Dean Brill, Ed Asafu-Adjaye, Sol Davis (Calvin Andrew 73), Lewis Emanuel, Keith Keane, Matthew Spring, Don Hutchison, Stephen O’Leary, Darren Currie, Paul McVeigh (Steve Robinson 46), Sam Parkin.

Subs not used: Marlon Beresford, Richard Jackson, Richard Langley.

Referee: Colin Webster.

Attendance: 9,332.