FOR Doncaster Rovers fans at least, chances are that Scunthorpe United are the first name that most would have picked above all others to be their Boxing Day visitors.
It is not necessarily due to local rivalry with their near-neighbours from across the A18 either. Moreso that Rovers have claimed seven successive wins over the Iron, who have never won at the Keepmoat Stadium, with their last victory in Doncaster coming way back in 1998.
The fixture on home soil last season enabled Rovers to sign off a disappointing 2014-15 in uplifting fashion with a 5-2 final-day win, with the hosts hoping normal service will be resumed today.
The stage is set for the first of two marquee occasions at the Keepmoat, with an attractive-looking FA Cup third-round date with top-flight Stoke City following in a fortnight – with the sight of a healthy crowd likely to provide improving Rovers with another morale boost.
Darren Ferguson, whose side have lost once in their past nine matches in all competitions and are ending the year with a spring in their step, said: “I think it is a good game, derby games take care of themselves. It’ll be a good crowd on Boxing Day and I’m sure the tackles will be flying in – that is what you want and what you expect. It is a game that I am really looking forward to.
“I think it’s an important period of the season, there’s no question that December and the Christmas period – because you’ve got so many fixtures – things can turn either good or bad.
“You want to be a confident bunch and have that belief that in every game we go into now we feel we can win and that’s where we’re at.
“If you get a good Christmas, you have a real optimism going in to the New Year of what you can do.”