FOOTBALL has a habit of knocking convention on the head but it would appear safe to reckon that Rotherham United and Torquay United won’t produce a repeat at Don Valley tonight of the 3-3 scoreline they managed at Plainmoor back in September.
Certainly the scarcity of goals in Millers matches recently and Torquay’s plethora of clean sheets and 1-0 wins might suggest much less than the six goals they shared that afternoon.
In Rotherham’s last seven games neither they nor their opponents have scored more than one goal. Their two wins have both been by 1-0.
As for Torquay, their 2-2 draw at home to Bristol Rovers (the Gulls fighting back from two down) almost represented a goalfest. The six wins they chiselled out from their previous eight matches had all been by 1-0 margins.
Three points tonight would see Torquay leap up to second place and Rotherham would go two points behind seventh-placed Oxford United who they visit on Saturday.
Rotherham’s defence face a test they ultimately found difficult to handle down at Torquay with the big, bustling Rene Howe leading the attack and the small, skilful Eunan O’Kane just in behind him, a role he seems well suited to.
Millers boss Andy Scott acknowledged that how his side handles these two will be important but said he wants his side to impose themselves.
“It’s about maintaining what we are doing defensively and improving going forward,” said Scott.
“This game is a big challenge but we have to believe in what we’re doing.”
Scott is a friend of Torquay boss Martin Ling who took over last summer.
“I like the way he works,” said Scott who was with him at Orient. “He does the same thing, his man-management is very good and players buy into what he does.”
Torquay, who had a run of seven straight wins recently, could be without ex-Owls youngster Kevin Nicholson. The left back, a key figure taking set-pieces and long throws, was injured on Saturday.
Without Shaun Harrad, recalled by Bury, Rotherham may have Scott Griffiths, knee, available.
The club have sold 1,100 season tickets in just the first week of sales to current season ticket holders for the New York Stadium. That’s a few hundred less than the total for this season and they confidently expect the biggest sale for many years even ahead of when sale is opened up.