South Yorks Derby: Blades and Rovers battle for top spots

Goal threat: David Cotterill has been a key figure for Rovers. Photo: Chris Lawton.
Goal threat: David Cotterill has been a key figure for Rovers. Photo: Chris Lawton.

AS the season eases into its second half, another promotion tussle with a South Yorkshire rival for Sheffield United looks assured.

What may be a bit different this time, and appears to make it even harder for all those promotion aspirants, is that whereas it was virtually a four-horse race for the two automatic promotion places last season, there are certainly more genuine candidates this time.

Tranmere are back on top where they’ve been most of the season. Then come the Blades and Rovers who meet in the division’s Match of the Day this afternoon.

Brentford are right up there whilst Bournemouth, on a fantastic run since Eddie Howe returned as manager, have stormed into contention and will take some stopping. Swindon and MK Dons are hovering whilst rank outsider Coventry have risen rapidly under Mark Robins.

It appears to be making the race for the two automatic spots a real dogfight.

It’s no surprise that Sheffield United have been figuring among the front runners and, for Danny Wilson, it’s no surprise that Doncaster are up there.

“I thought they would be challenging with the players they have in their squad,” said the United boss.

“They have some experience and, in fact, a nice blend. And we’ve watched them recently where they have defended well and have the ability to score.

“But I think we’ve shown we can defend and also that we can create and are capable of scoring goals.”

One player with an extra incentive may well be winger David Cotterill.

The former Blades winger has had quite a start to his Rovers career this season. He has nine goals already including some quite outstanding and memorable long range ones, not least his spectacular 40 yard effort at Walsall.

He also scored in Saturday’s 3-0 win at Preston albeit a touch more fortuitously, his inswinging free-kick intended for the pack was above everyone but carried on swinging into the far top corner!

A win for either today and a draw or less for Tranmere at Kevin Blackwell’s Bury would then see the Keepmoat victors go top of League One!