Rovers renew a bitter rivalry with Rotherham United this weekend as the two sides meet for the first time in more than a decade. We spoke to The Star’s Millers writer PAUL DAVIS to get the latest on how the side from down the A630 are faring heading into the derby.
Q: What does this derby mean to Rotherham supporters?
Paul Davis: The fact that Rotherham United will have a following close to the 4,000 mark at the Keepmoat Stadium shows that this South Yorkshire derby has more significance to fans than most other matches.
Sheffield Wednesday are the team Millers followers most love to beat, but taking Rovers’ scalp wouldn’t be a bad substitute for them.
Q: What is a successful season for the Millers?
PD: After last season’s relegation from the Championship, consolidation in League One is the main aim.
Any finish in the top half of the table would be satisfactory and a top-10 place would be an excellent achievement by Paul Warne’s men.
They’ve been as high as fourth this season and now lie seventh, raising hopes of a play-off push.
With the right recruitment in January, that might not be beyond them.
However, they look certain to lose 12-goal top scorer Kieffer Moore in the transfer window as parent club Ipswich Town plan to recall the 6ft 5in loan striker. That would be a huge blow.
Warne’s summer work in the transfer market showed he can spot a player and the Millers are already drawing up targets for the New Year.
Q: How have they started the season and how is the form heading into Saturday?
PD: Rotherham can be very good going forward, but they’re not without their problems at the back.
They started slowly but then went on a really good run which took them into the top six.
They have taken only one point from their last three league games and went out of the FA Cup at the hands of League Two Crewe Alexandra last week. That poor run has been a reality check.
Generally, they have been excellent at home. When they get on the front foot with the AESSEAL New York Stadium crowd behind them, they’re capable of over-running the opposition.
They’ve been less successful away from home, but wins at Portsmouth and Rochdale show they’re capable of earning results on the road.
Their recent form has been their poorest of the season, so Rovers may see this as a good time to be playing them.
Q: Style of play?
PD: Warne is a former fitness coach who has gone for athletic players who can get around the pitch.
Rotherham play at a high tempo, press hard out of possession, hit the wingers or Moore quickly and look to get as many balls into the box as possible.
Defensively, they’ve not been the best at set-pieces, conceding too many times from free-kicks and corners.
Q: Danger man?
PD: It’s an obvious choice, but you have to go for the country’s most prolific centre-forward, Moore. He has a good touch for a big man, along with mobility and a bit of pace, and he obviously wins plenty of balls in the air. A lot of the Millers’ play goes through him and he’s thrived on the regular service he’s received from the flanks.
Q: Match prediction?
PD: Rotherham have suffered a dip just as Rovers have improved. Many observers would have fancied the Millers a fortnight ago, but the derby is shaping up to be a closer affair now.
Rotherham can score against anybody, but they can also concede against anybody. It doesn’t look like a 0-0 game.