Perhaps the best way to indicate the huge gulf in class between Rovers and their opponents on Saturday, is to consider that while the South Yorkshire club were succumbing to a disappointing Boxing Day defeat to Scunthorpe United, The Potters were defeating Manchester United 2-0.
Stoke City have also claimed high profile scalps in the shape of Chelsea and Man City in recent weeks although defeats to Liverpool and West Brom in their last two games may have dampened their mood somewhat. Despite Mark Hughes plans to rotate his squad for this game, there will still be an embarrassment of riches for the Welshman to choose from with Charlie Adam, Peter Crouch and Jon Walters likely to return from the bench and at least two of Stoke’s quite honestly, frightening front four of Affelay, Bojan, Arnautovic, and Shaqiri all likely to feature.
Rovers have not played Stoke City since 1960 which partly explains the huge clamour for tickets which has resulted in the South Stand being completely sold out as well as most of the rest of the ground. This promises to be the biggest crowd at a Rovers home game for some years. The stage is set for a goosebump inducing turn from the Black Bank who in many ways are entitled to see this game as a culmination of all their hard work.
Stoke City currently have their best squad since the days of Stanley Matthews so this will be an incredibly tough test for Rovers. As we know from Bradford City’s recent cup exploits though not everything is cut and dry in football and if Rovers can get an early goal and continue to threaten on the counter then a shock could potentially be on the cards.
Match Prediction DRFC 1-3 Stoke City (Tyson)
As much as the glorious league cup run of 2005 is still fresh in the memory, even more fresh are 5-1 and 4-0 humblings against Spurs and Bolton respectively in cup competition. It is hard to image that an incredibly strong Stoke side should have much of a problem at the Keepmoat Stadium but I sincerely hope that I am wrong!