Under the control of Lee Johnson, Sunderland set their sights on earning promotion to the Championship this season, and they got off to a strong start, establishing themselves in the hunt for the top two spots by earning 49 points from the opening 24 league matches.
However, the Black Cats have seen their form take a dip since the turn of the year, winning just one of their first four games of 2022 – a 1-0 victory over Portsmouth before they suffered a thrashing last time out.
Bolton Wanderers arrived at the Stadium of Light looking to extend their resurgence with a surprise victory, and they dished out a 6-0 thrashing with Oladapo Afolayan, Kieran Lee and Declan John helping themselves to goals alongside a Dion Charles brace and an own goal from Danny Batth.
That triggered the end of Johnson’s tenure, with the club now searching for his replacement in the North East while looking to correct their form with a victory on Saturday in the meantime.
With Sunderland remaining third in England’s third tier, two points behind Wigan Athletic, they could climb back into the automatic promotion spots with a victory over the league’s basement side.
Doncaster Rovers arrive on the back of two straight losses, taking their tally to 20 defeats from their 29 League One outings so far this season.
After breaking a five-game losing run with a surprise 1-0 away victory over promotion-chasing MK Dons, thanks to Joe Dodoo’s goal, Gary McSheffrey’s side fell to a 3-1 home defeat at the hands of Plymouth Argyle last Saturday.
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Rovers then met league leaders Rotherham United in a Yorkshire derby at the Keepmoat Stadium on Tuesday, and they were handed a 5-0 thrashing with Mickel Miller, Ben Wiles, Chiedozie Ogbene, Daniel Barlaser and Jamie Lindsay all helping themselves to goals in a rampant away performance.
That has left McSheffrey’s men in an unenviable position at the bottom of the table, three points behind 23rd-placed Gillingham and 11 points adrift of safety.
With 17 league games left to play, Rovers are not yet totally condemned to the drop, but they require a drastic turn in form, and the schedule does not get any easier with a trip to the third-placed Black Cats on Saturday