Rotherham United: Steve Evans' warning to Millers ... '˜You're great but I'm coming to beat you.'

He describes his time at Rotherham United as '˜magical'.

Thursday, 29th March 2018, 6:00 am
Steve Evans

Yet former manager Steve Evans will put his love for the Millers to one side when he returns to AESSEAL New York Stadium tomorrow.

Evans, who won two promotions in two years with Rotherham and then kept them in the Championship, brings his Peterborough United side to South Yorkshire for a battle between two League One play-off contenders.

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“I had three magical years at that club,” he said. “But I want to beat them as much as they will want to beat me.

“It’s a great place to play football. I was there for the move to the new stadium (in 2012) and it’s a fantastic arena. The home fans are passionate and the atmosphere will be fantastic.

“I’m still in regular contact with the chairman (Tony Stewart) and their manager, Paul Warne, was my fitness coach. He’s a great lad.”

Posh head to New York in sixth spot to take on Warne’s fourth-placed side who have lost three of their last four matches after going unbeaten for 14 games.

Paul Warne

Semi Ajayi was well below his best in the 2-0 reverse at Southend United last Saturday but the centre-half is in the frame to start the Good Friday showdown.

“Semi’s had an amazing season,” Warne said. “He’s had a couple of poor performances but over a course of a 46-game season you’re not going to be top drawer in every match.

“He wasn’t the only one who under-perormed a little bit last week. Me and him watched his clips from Southend this week. I said to him: ‘You’ve had more bad touches in that game than you have in the last 10.’

“He’s only young. He’s 24. Because he’s been in the team for a bit and we got him from Cardiff, people think he’s 30/32. He’ a young man and he will have games where he under-performs.

“I’m not here to slaughter Semi. He’s been brilliant for me. I’ve put my arm round him this week. He’ll be in contention to play on Friday.”

Evans, meanwhile, is hoping for a welcome from home supporters to match the one he was given on his first return to New York, with Leeds United in 2016.

“Fans gave me a reception that both humbled me and excited me,” he said. “They gave me a standing ovation. But Rotherham beat me 2-1 that day so I want to get my own back.

Paul Warne

“It’s obviously a huge match, especially for us, at the start of a massive weekend.

“We have the small matter of a local derby against Northampton on Monday which obviously means a lot to us and our fans, but we have to take care of Rotherham first.

“If we get four points from the weekend I’m confident we will still be in the play-off places. If we manage to get the six points we want I’m sure we will be fifth before we go to Plymouth the following weekend.

“You want big games at this stage of the season and this one is very big.”

Warne has to decide whether to bring goalkeeper Marek Rodak straight back from Slovakian international duty or keep faith with stand-in Lewis Price.

He was planning to assess Rodak on his first day back in training today before selecting his side.

“Once I see him train and speak to Polly (Mike Pollitt), the goalkeeping coach, we’ll come to a decision,” he said.

“Marek’s had a good season for us and it would be great to have him back.”

Rotherham are away to another top-six rival, Charlton Athletic, on Monday.