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Nic Ladds 5th Feb 2010 - 19:56

A right Royal mess

Just two years ago this match preview would have been a totally different prospect. Reading were in the Premier League while their opponents, Doncaster, were in League 1. This is 2010 though and Doncaster actually sit above Reading in the Championship, with the latter three points adrift from the safety.

Rovers have a really strong home record, losing just two games at the Keepmoat Stadium all season. Reading actually have a better away record than at home, but are on a terrible run with just one win in their last eight games. This leads me to think Doncaster will pile the misery on Brian McDermott's men and take all three points.

Doncaster (11/10) are fourth in the Championship's form table at the moment with five wins and three losses in their last eight which has seen them rise to a comfortable 15th place in the league. Historically Rovers don't have the best record against their opponents with no wins and just one goal in the last six. This season is different though and Doncaster are much the stronger side.

Reading (2/1) have lost their last three away matches in the league and confidence is low. The cup win away at Liverpool was enough for caretaker manager McDermott to get the job full time but he has a real task on his hands turning the league form round.

Doncaster are boosted by signing ex-loanee Shelton Martis on a full time basis from West Brom and he is expected to go straight in to the first team. Billy Sharp and Dean Shiels (5/1 and 6/1 first goal) are expected to start up front; Sharp tops the club's scoring charts with ten goals. The manager will be thankful there are no new injury concerns and will be able to name a strong side.

Considering their league position, Reading have a squad that should probably be higher. Like their opponents, they have no new injury concerns but Matejovsky, Noel Hunt and Chris Armstrong are still out. Shane Long should start up front again after bagging the winner in the last match and is 7/1 to get the first here. Rasiak or Church are possible partners for him and are both the same 7/1 to get the first goal.

When Reading play away from home, there are goals - 46 to be exact, only games involving Cardiff have more goals. This is due to a poor defence but still having the ability to score goals, so over 2 match goals at Evens could be worth a punt.

Doncaster have the best disciplinary record in the league, so as long as Reading keep it clean then total match cards of under 4 at 10/11 could easily come in. The reverse fixture in September was 0-0 and if you think neither team will dominate you can get 11/5 on the draw or a massive 9/1 on it staying 0-0 which is the most likely scoreline if Doncaster misfire.

Reading's league position is probably a little harsh but it's hard to deny they have been really poor this season and could do well to stay in this league. Doncaster have shown they are tough to beat at home and it's hard to see anything but a home win. My guess is a 2-0 victory at 8/1.



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