GIVEN the fact that both Doncaster Rovers and Sunderland were involved in the play-offs last season, their current status in mid-table ranks as a surprise to most observers.
Yet the mood in both camps ahead of tomorrow’s meeting could not be more contrasting.
Rovers head into the game on the back of an outstanding 3-0 victory at Peterborough, while the Wearsiders, by contrast, extended their grim winless sequence to nine matches in all competitions amid a chorus of disapproval at the Stadium of Light on Boxing Day.
A 0-0 home draw with rock-bottom Bolton further increased the pressure upon under-fire manager Phil Parkinson, not that his opposite number, Darren Moore, is reading too much into Sunderland’s current sequence.
As for the fact that both find themselves out of the play-off picture, Moore added: “Such is football and you can never predict it. We are all experts when we predict, but it never works out to what it is.
“We are just looking at the Sunderland game as an isolated fixture and we know they are a fantastic club with some wonderful players. We are going to have to be at our very best.
“They are one of the strong teams in the division, managed by a very experienced manager in Phil. It will be difficult and they ask questions of you.
“They are a strong team and a big football club at this level. It is another difficult fixture and every game in League One presents its own problems and you have got to be ready.”
Tomorrow’s fixture is just the third time that Sunderland have ever played a competitive game in this corner of South Yorkshire.
The Black Cats have won on their two previous visits to Rovers, in 2018 and 1987, and have yet to concede a goal.