ROTHERHAM United will find themselves in an unusual situation tomorrow and what might be termed “a first” for them at the New York Stadium.
So far, in their nine competitive fixtures at their new ground, the Millers have been regarded as favourites. The team most fancied to come out on top.
For the first FA Cup tie at the new stadium, that status won’t apply tomorrow. Stevenage, flying high in League One, arrive as the ‘favourites’ for the first round tie.
The Millers as underdogs will be a new experience and for Stevenage, who have generally sneaked under the radar during a promotion and a play-off near miss, it will be different too because they’ve had a tendency to be the ‘smaller club’, the unfancied side despite their two years of success since gaining promotion to the Football League.
“They will be favourites and deservedly so,” admitted Millers boss Steve Evans whose first game as Crawley manager was a 2-1 win over Stevenage.
“I saw them play recently at Coventry and they won. Their manager Gary Smith, who I don’t know personally, has developed and added to what Graham Westley started and they have a great chance of promotion in League One.”
Evans says he’s been reminded of Rotherham’s poor cup record over the past decade and says it would be great if they could get the New York Stadium off to a flier in this competition.
“At Crawley we had wins over Hull, Bristol City and Derby County, had a trip to Old Trafford and also played Stoke and they are magical days and I’d love some of that here,” he said.
The Millers were boosted with the news that Lee Frecklington has been granted permission to play by parent club Peterborough United as has the other loan player, left back Josh Morris.
Daniel Nardiello has a slight hamstring injury and Evans admits he won’t play ‘if he’s not quite right’. That would open up an opportunity for Kieran Agard who, Evans acknowledges, is in the frame after doing well when he went on last Saturday versus Plymouth and also in the reserves 1-1 draw at home to Mansfield on Tuesday.
Stevenage, fourth in League One and having won five and drawn one of their seven away games, will have defensive midfielder James Dunne available again to slot into their 4-2-3-1 system. They suffered a shock 4-0 defeat by Swindon last Saturday.