Rotherham United will take a glance at the conquests of Hartlepool United in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy so far and it will certainly alert them to the task ahead tonight at Victoria Park.
They will also note the recent upsurge in form and results of the League Two side which has seen them win seven of their last eight games.
This run culminated in them beating Notts County 3-2 in the FA Cup on Saturday and Steve Evans will head to the north east well aware that Neale Cooper’s side are very much on a roll and that this will be much tougher than might appear at first glance.
Tonight’s clash (with an early 7pm kick-off) is the Northern Area quarter-final and the stage when players start to reckon they can peek Wembley on the horizon.
The Millers actually go into the Northern section’s last eight as the top ranked club. They are the highest placed of the four League One clubs left in with the remaining four from League Two.
But Hartlepool’s season, after starting with six winless games, was kick-started by a 5-0 win over Bradford City in the JPT. They then went to Bramall Lane and beat Sheffield United 1-0. Sometimes, after such wins, clubs can get a taste for a competition.
Their improvement saw them have five straight wins in October and although it ended with a 1-0 defeat at Scunthorpe, it was enough for boss Cooper to get the League Two Manager of the Month award.
Millers boss Evans hasn’t regarded the competition as his top priority but he will sorely want to build on the club’s return to winning ways against Bradford after the run of five without a win.
He will make changes with neither Kari Arnason nor Michael O’Connor will be involved although O’Connor is available for the game at Stevenage on Saturday because he has not joined up with Northern Ireland.
Arnason’s absences offers the chance for Claude Davis to return in centre defence after two months out.
Hartlepool are likely to include former Millers winger Andy Monkhouse.