COULD the Don Valley Stadium factor hinder Rotherham United’s opponents Bristol Rovers tomorrow?
Their experienced manager Mark McGhee, who recently took over at Rovers, has warned his players that they should not let the conditions or surroundings affect them.
“The look of the place can undermine your feelings about the game,” said McGhee. “We have got to be careful not to allow any of it to be a distraction or an excuse for not playing well.”
The McGhee comments will not be a surprise.
There is no doubt that the wide open venue, with its noticeable lack of atmosphere and susceptibility to being particularly windy, is among the least popular of League Two grounds.
For the Pirates and McGhee it will be their first visit but McGhee also indicated he had a more pressing concern.
He was at Gillingham on Tuesday to check out the Millers and he commented: “They are a very organised, strong, aggressive team with pace and are going to be very difficult to break down.”
Certainly the Millers will intend to be more of a challenge than when the teams met in October at the Memorial Ground.
On that occasion, two defenders, Guy Branston and Jon Harley were signed at the last minute and Branston was sent off as Rotherham crashed 5-2.
At the time Rovers were under the tutelage of Paul Buckle who had left Torquay at the end of last season. However, newly-relegated Rovers struggled and Buckle got the sack.
McGhee, most recently in charge at Aberdeen having managed six other clubs, was handed the job in January.
His first game in charge was to halt Cheltenham’s storming run with a 2-0 win at Whaddon Road and results have taken an upward surge with three wins followed by the only defeat, 1-0 at Shrewsbury. Last Saturday was goalless at home to Oxford United and McGhee says he wants them to become hard to beat.
Millers boss Andy Scott - who looks likely to retain Michael Raynes after his midweek comeback - says he isn’t surprised at the improvement in results from Rovers.
“It happens often whereby the same players who hadn’t been getting great results suddenly start getting better results under a new manager,” he said. “We need to back up the away draws and they will seem better if we can win and so build on the momentum we have.”