A look ahead to tomorrow's game
This weekend Bristol Rovers will be travelling to New York. However it will not involve a Trans-Atlantic flight, because this New York is in South Yorkshire, It’s the New York Stadium, Rotherham, weather permitting!
There is a certain irony that this game is in danger of being postponed as the reverse fixture was called off just hours before kick-off.
United Boss Steve Evans alluded to this in a pre-match interview when talking about his team’s recent game at Oxford being put off, “Common sense kicked in and the match at Oxford United was actually postponed on Friday afternoon. Our supporters have travelled long distances this season on three occasions for the matches to be postponed late and that costs time and a lot of hard earned money.”
He went on to talk about his team’s preparation this week, “The weather has made it difficult as the training ground, pitches are frozen but it is essential we keep working the lads. They have enjoyed a bit of extra time off this weekend due to the match being postponed but they will in turn now put the hours back in as we prepare for Bristol Rovers at the New York Stadium next Saturday.
“My friend, Dave Jones, the manager at Sheffield Wednesday has been brilliant and allowed us to use the indoor facility they have in place. That has allowed the football in training to continue rather than always be working in the gym doing purely physical exercise.
“The lads will train every day this week as we prepare for another big match, please get used to it because every single one now counts, every single point gained is absolutely vital.”
Evans will feel the pressure as the last game his team played them unexpectedly lost at home 2-0 to Barnet; 21 minutes into the game Jake Hyde clipped the ball over Millers keeper Andy Warrington to give the visitors the lead.
The Millers responded with Ian Sharp testing Barnet custodian Graham Stack twice with headed efforts on goal. Substitute Andy Yiadom sealed the points for the Bees as he knocked in Ricky Holmes's cross.
United assistant manager Paul Raynor said after the game, "It's disappointing to say the least. We started brightly, created one or two openings, their keeper has made some good saves, then it petered out a bit.
"We certainly had enough possession, but very disappointed with the result and the performance. Barnet have proved in recent weeks if you give them something to hold on to they will do, they sit behind the ball in numbers and try and hit you on the break.
"So with all the possession we had we didn't really create clear-cut opportunities and that's disappointing."
Last season Rovers did the double over the South Yorkshire team. On October 14th 2011 in a rare Friday night game, Rovers had their best ever result against the Millers.
After 10 minutes Scott McGleish opened the scoring and later doubled his tally with a penalty. Cian Bolger, Lee Brown and substitute Joe Anyinsah all added their names to the list of Rovers’ scorers. Jason Taylor and Danny Schofield, scored for the Yorkshire team in a game that the Gas dominated.
On 25th February Rovers held out in the game at the Don Valley Stadium until added time when Andy Dorman put the icing on the cake with a driven winner for the Gas.
Looking back at the history of games between the Pirates and the Millers, the first ever meeting was on 21st November 1953 at Millmoor, where a Barrie Meyer goal secured a 1-1 draw. The return game at Eastville saw Paddy Hale score to give Rovers a 1-0 victory.
What was remarkable about Rovers visits to Millmoor was their lack of success in the early years. It took 19 games before they secured maximum points!
During that spell there were 5 consecutive defeats followed by 6 consecutive draws. Here is the complete record;
Played Won Drew Lost For Against
Home 26 17 2 7 52 31
Away 28 4 12 12 25 47
TOTAL 54 21 14 19 77 78
Pretty even overall, but the home teams certainly dominate. Just 11 away wins and 29 home wins from 54 games.
Rovers’ last visit to Rotherham, prior to last season, was on 17 March 2001 in that fateful freefall to relegation. A 3-0 defeat added to Rovers’ woes. In their previous trip to the mining town Rovers won a 3rd Round FA Cup tie 1-0 on 2nd January 1999.
The best victory Rovers experienced at Millmoor was on 10 September 1994 when they ran out 3-0 winners. Conversely their worst defeat was in only their second visit when they went down to a 6-2 hammering on 16 October 1954.
Less than a month after Rovers victory last season the Millers boss Andy Scott was sacked after a defeat to Oxford left the Millers with all but a very slim chance of reaching the Play Offs. Steve Evans took on the job and despite winning five of their last nine games, Rotherham still finished 5 points outside the play offs.
In a move earlier this week Evans has brought in new signing Claude Davis to bolster his defence. The experienced Jamaican defender joined the Millers on an 18 month deal from Crawley who he helped to get out of League Two last season.
“He was outstanding in my time with him at Crawley and we are looking for him to do here what he did there,” said Evans who signed him for the Sussex club, “He is a real defender, an organiser and a good signing at the right time.”
The man Davis replaces, Ian Sharps who has gone out on loan at Burton Albion was Evans’ major defensive summer signing having helped Shrewsbury to promotion last season. Sharps was a regular until injury struck and figured in five of the seven different centre-defence alliances so far.
With no clean sheet in their last eight home games and 15 goals conceded in those games, Evans obviously sees Davis as a key to stemming the flow.
Conversely John Ward having secured Ryan Brunt from Stoke there is every indication that Davis will be given a severe test, especially if Clayton McDonald ventures forward for free-kicks and corners. It looks as if there might be plenty of action in New York this weekend!
Written by Gerry Prewett