Where We Are
A disappointing draw against Oldham Athletic on Sunday sees us safely ensconced in mid-table mediocrity and it seems that will be where we’ll remain for this season. Although this is a remarkable achievement given the pre-season tribulations it’s still disappointing not to be up amongst the play-off chasers especially given how we dispatched of Peterborough on Boxing Day.
Next up is Rotherham United just over a month after they easily beat us 3-0 on a cold Tuesday night in Northampton. This will be a chance for the team to show what could have been had we not been deducted points, where this game would have been 6th against 7th in the league. The reality is though that we’re up against a side 9 points ahead of us in the league and in reasonably good form over the past few months.
The team news is that we’re without Danny Seaborne after he picked up a 3 game suspension after swinging a punch towards Jonson Clarke-Harris during the previous match. Seaborne seemed set to extend his loan stay at the club until the end of the season but this may change Pressley’s mind. In place of Seaborne could be Jordan Clarke returning to centre-back, although if he’s not fit then Jordan Willis will be next in line to start.
There’s also doubts over the fitness of John Fleck after he had to be taken off during the Oldham match. The competition for his place will be between Billy Daniels and Adam Barton, this game could be Adam Barton’s final chance to stake a claim for more regular football having failed to impress Pressley thus far this season. Given that Barton was left out of the starting XI in the Hartlepool cup tie when he could have been picked it suggests to me that Daniels will be given Fleck’s place and that Barton may be leaving in the coming January transfer window.
Last Time We Met
As referenced above we last played them at the end of November in Northampton and were duly thrashed 3-0.
How Are They Doing?
Since beating us they have been knocked out of two cup competitions by lower league sides but only have lost once in the league. What we saw from them last time we played them was that they are a well-organised and robust side who look to keep clean sheets first and wear the opposition down. Despite the reputation of their manager Steve Evans, who has recently displayed remarkable conduct from the bench by his standards, they are a pretty tidy side and aren’t one-dimensional hoof-ball merchants.
One of our tormentors last time we played against them was Nouha Dicko who has been recalled by his parent club Wigan. That though still leaves the tricky frontman Kieran Agard amongst Rotherham’s ranks and the former Everton striker is improving game-by-game. He could be partnered up front by the Stephane Guivarc’h impersonator Alex Revell, a striker remarkable in that he rarely scores but is important in his link up play.
Rotherham’s midfield remains one of the most quietly impressive in the division despite being chocked full of central midfielders giving them a narrowness to their play. Lee Frecklington and Ben Pringle are most likely to play the widest out of their midfield options with both possessing wicked long range shooting capabilities. They recently added Newcastle United youngster Haris Vuckic who was Yohan Cabaye’s deputy a few seasons ago but suffered a horrendous injury. The Slovenian has impressed during his loan spell thus far and scored in their Boxing Day win over Bradford.
We already know how tough Rotherham United are as opponents and tomorrow shouldn’t prove any different. Despite winning promotion last year and lying in 6th position this time round the Millers have a fairly poor home record at their new stadium. This shouldn’t stop them from being difficult opponents and given that we’re a side that like to dominate games it may play into their hands and allow them to counter attack rather than try to take the ascendency.
My prediction is that we’ll draw 1-1.