Rotherham United: Smallwood makes big impact for Millers in unbeaten run

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There won’t be too many players with an unbeaten record this season. So, step forward midfielder Richie Smallwood who has yet to be on the losing side in Rotherham United colours.

The 23-year-old arrived at Rotherham on loan from Middlesbrough in January, went straight into the side and has figured in all the games since, the last 13 of the current 15- match unbeaten run.

It was hardly the easiest of starts either inasmuch as he was keeping out Michael O’Connor, the talented Northern Ireland international who has become a fans’ favourite.

With Smallwood being a different type of player and, in many respects, less eye-catching than O’Connor, many Millers fans didn’t instantly warm to him in the opening few games. Their opinion has changed. He has won them over.

He has been playing alongside Lee Frecklington and, in view of an inclination to curb any attacking instincts and do the defensive side of the game, Smallwood has brought a balance to the midfield.

He has the knack of reading the game and popping up in situations where he wins possession and checks the opposition, never better than in the games against Peterborough and Brentford and he was certainly a top performer against Bristol City.

“When I spoke to Tony Mowbray (former Middlesbrough boss) about him he said go and get him, he’ll do the side of the game that people don’t notice but which is invaluable,” said Millers boss Steve Evans.

“It’s also having the discipline to do it and he has shown that - it’s easy to go forward when everyone else is going forward. You can leave yourself open and we did that earlier in the season. We learned.

“He’s a quiet young man who does nothing else other than come in, go about his business in a professional manner and then perform when he gets out there. Often he does the other side of the game and I must say he has been outstanding in a number of games.”

Smallwood is out of contract at Middlesbrough in the summer.

The Millers are sure to be in there pitching for him.