ROTHERHAM United skipper Ian Sharps believes League Two looks even harder this season than last - and he should know!
He enjoyed promotion success with Shrewsbury Town last season before plumping for a return to Rotherham for a second spell with them.
That successful spell with the Shrews - including a couple of solid, steady displays against the Millers - means he knows what’s needed to get out of this division, a factor that helped persuade manager Steve Evans when he was looking for defensive experience.
“It’s going to be a very competitive division again and, I believe, harder this season,” said Sharps.
“One or two sides didn’t do as well as expected last season - like Rotherham and Bradford City - but they have progressed and put money into the team and so you would expect these sides to figure.”
He says that “on the whole” he wouldn’t argue too much with the performances in the opening three games.
“We had a bit of luck against Burton but should have had at least four points from the two away games at Northampton and Chesterfield,” he says.
“The table says we’ve four points and a statistic that says one away point from six. A year ago at Shrewsbury we’d two points from three games and everything was doom and gloom but then we started putting results together.
“It’s a long season and, in the early season, games are always tight. Perhaps the first six to eight games are always harder because even those against teams who are going to end up at the bottom are hard as it’s a fresh start for everyone.
“The gaffer thinks the first 10 games involves teams who will be up there so if we come away from those in a decent position then we can look to kick on.
“Get into November then December and things are starting to take shape and by then you get people who are confident or not confident.”
Sharps was the man involved in the last minute penalty appeal that Chesterfield had waved aside on Saturday. His view?
“The shot hit my knee and then ricocheted up and struck my hand, I couldn’t have avoided it and I think I’d have gone berserk had he given a penalty,” he said.
“In the first half Lionel Ainsworth ‘scored’ but was pulled up for handball and he swears he chested the ball down perfectly. You get decisions like those but I think the ref (Darren Drysdale) had a good game.”
Referee Paul Tierney has written to the Millers apologising over missing a bad challenge on Johnny Mullins in the opening league game against Burton.