THE whole of North East Derbyshire and a certain part of South Yorkshire have long been looking forward to tonight’s first meeting at the B2net Stadium of Chesterfield and Rotherham United.
The fact that these two old rivals (first meeting after Rotherham had actually become United was on Christmas Day 1925) are chasing promotion from League Two adds a bit of sparkle and spice to it.
Not that the Spireites are quite chasing it - more like comfortably strolling towards it because when they look over their shoulder from the lofty plateau of top spot, they can see the rest puffing and panting in the distance.
And with the fourth-placed club (which happens to be the Millers) 15 points behind, it is quite a distance to be behind when there are only nine or ten games left.
Their top spot, the 15 point gap and their home record - the division’s best - are reasons enough why John Sheridan’s side start as hot favourites tonight.
They might just fancy a spot of revenge as well for it was Ronnie Moore’s side who left a stain on what was an otherwise spotless record which ran into the season’s fourth month.
The 1-0 defeat at the Don Valley Stadium in September - courtesy of a quality finish from Adam Le Fondre - was Chesterfield’s first loss of the season and was to remain their only one until their 16th league game.
To indicate their marvellous consistency, Chesterfield did not suffer a second away defeat until mid-February!
By then they had made themselves secure in top spot having scaled the peak on October 16 and, apart from losing it for just one game, have been there ever since.
By contrast, Rotherham flitted in the first half of the season between third and sixth before moving into more or less permanent residency in the top three after the turn of the year only to slip out of the coveted trio of automatic places this month.
That has largely been due to a poor away run since the last victory on their travels (at Macclesfield on January 3) of nine matches in which they have lost 6, drawn 2 and won one.
No doubt the Sky cameras offering up a rare glimpse of League Two tonight would happily settle for some of the thrills and entertainment there has been in a lot of those games with Rotherham contributing considerably.
Unfortunately for them, it is the smallest of consolations, and not least when they have gone behind first in all of those nine games - and on several occasions in the early stages.
Both sides possess their potent weapons with the powerful Craig Davies chasing Le Fondre at the top of the scoring charts all season.
Dean Morgan, a skilful talent whose languishing in League Two puzzles outsiders, is known to the Millers from last season’s Play-off semi-final against Aldershot.
They, nor anyone else, need no introduction to Jack Lester who has been skilfully used by boss John Sheridan this season.
Le Fondre’s goalscoring record supports those who say he’ll play higher up one day but it may be suggested that he still has some considerable way to go if he is to match the Jack Lester of Forest, Sheffield United days etc. and, as seen by his goal in the recent win over Northampton, he is still able to manufacture goals for himself let alone others.
Ryan Taylor’s emergence this season and his form has been a real plus for the Millers and he has been adding the goals as well. Marcus Marshall is a threat out wide whilst the manager’s son, Ian Thomas-Moore, has yet to make a real impact so far but his experience and nous should be invaluable in the games ahead.
Rotherham will be glad to have Ryan Cresswell back in defence.
After a lengthy spell when Chesterfield totally ruled the roost, Rotherham have had the better of things recently.
They have won the last four meetings, including their final meeting at Saltergate in January 2010, and have won six of the last seven clashes.
But between 1980 and 2004, the clubs met on 22 occasions in all competitions and Chesterfield didn’t lose any of them!