PERHAPS Rotherham United are in line to score just once against promotion rivals Shrewsbury Town tomorrow. Certainly so if they continue their goalscoring trend when winning at home this year.
They started the year on January 1 with FIVE against Port Vale; the next win at home was FOUR against Stockport and then they got THREE against Crewe Alexandra.
They kept up the decreasing sequence by scoring TWO against Accrington Stanley on Tuesday so if the trend continues it should be one against Shrewsbury!
Whatever it is, they are involved in League Two’s Match of the Day - third versus second with Shrewsbury arriving on a roll having won their last four matches.
For the Millers, they more or less find themselves in a similar sort of situation to that which some of their recent away opponents found themselves.
Rotherham’s travels included Wycombe, Port Vale, Gillingham and Oxford who were either up there with them or needing to win to keep, or get, within touching distance. Rotherham were third.
At Wycombe it was second v third and a point between them; Port Vale were four points behind (so it could stretch to seven); Gillingham were five behind (so it could go to eight); Oxford were seven points behind.
They were crucial games and all those home clubs seemed to raise their game. There were some big performances - notably from Wycombe in the first half and Gillingham throughout with it being regarded as their best of the season. Port Vale, who had lost seven of their previous eight, pulled out something extra.
All produced determined, redoubtable defending when they had got their noses in front.
Now, for the Millers, the boot is on the other foot tomorrow. So, why shouldn’t they be able to replicate what those away opponents did against them?
Certainly they need to produce that sort of response. They “got away” with an unconvincing performance in midweek against Accrington Stanley with manager Ronnie Moore admitting “it wasn’t one of our best”.
But he did add: “That’s how promotions are won, digging out results on rainy, horrible nights like that when not at your best but you graft and dig in to earn the points.”
Shrewsbury, who arrive a point ahead in second place, are reputedly the wealthiest club at this level and manager Graham Turner made half a dozen signings in the January transfer window to strengthen the squad.
Clearly one player definitely out to do well will be former Millers central defender Ian Sharps. He formed a formidable centre defence partnership with Nick Fenton but then Shrewsbury came calling and with Moore effectively plumping for Ryan Cresswell, he moved on and has been a central figure in the Shrews’ promotion push.
Two players with South Yorkshire connections are one-time Barnsley midfielder Nicky Wroe, recently signed from Torquay, and former Doncaster Rovers goalkeeper Ben Smith.
Former Owls midfielder Sean McAllister is out and has a hernia operation today.
The speedy former Huddersfield Town winger Lionel Ainsworth is in the side whilst young winger Jon Taylor, 19, has made a tremendous impact since getting his chance and scored four times in five appearances.
This included scoring in the 5-1 win at Lincoln in their last away game. They were 5-1 up at half-time and playing some quite outstanding football in their best display of the season.
They then went and beat Stevenage 1-0 at home last Saturday and manager Graham Turner reflected on the two performances... “Sometimes you play very well indeed like against Lincoln and others you have to knuckle down and graft like against Stevenage,” he said.
Rotherham will have on-loan left back Callum Kennedy available after serving a one-match ban whilst on-loan striker Liam Henderson looks set to figure again with Ryan Taylor a doubt with a groin injury.
Henderson, who worked tirelessly on his debut on Tuesday, didn’t meet his team-mates until going in the dressing room before the game. He had involvement in both goals.
“The lad did really well. He worked so hard for the team and it wasn’t easy, not knowing anyone and not having trained with us,” said Moore.