ITEN Match Preview: Rotherham (H) featuring Josh Yeardley
The South Yorkshire derby is reignited this Saturday after a year off as Rotherham United come to DN4 in search of their first win in Rovers territory for nearly 22 years. Neither side has been able to build much momentum through the opening month of the season due to postponements, and the home side are coming in off a two-week break from League One action. Rotherham have three away wins in a row but are struggling to find consistency in terms of performance, whilst Darren Moore’s young side has found a knack for snatching results against the odds in games so far.
Emerging Ennis leads the line
Niall Ennis made sure his first senior goal was one to remember when he opened the scoring against Lincoln a fortnight ago, backing up a tremendous strike with a complete performance that marks him out as the clear leading candidate to start up front again in the derby. He played an hour in the EFL Trophy win over the same opponents on Tuesday but saw his replacement Kazaiah Sterling net the decisive goal before Alfie May but the shine on a 3-1 victory. Ennis brings strength, pace and skill to the side and, with no marquee striker coming through the door on Deadline Day, the responsibility should fall to the Wolves loanee again.
Rovers played a strong team in the secondary cup competition after having a free weekend due to the unfortunate demise of Bury last week, meaning the first team should be fighting fit. Ben Sheaf is back from an infected bite on his leg to partner Ben Whiteman in midfield, whilst the one acquisition Darren Moore did make before the transfer window closed, defender Donervon Daniels, will likely start on the bench behind a defensive quartet that is settling together. The question then is which of our crop of six loanees will miss out on the squad altogether? Seny Dieng saved a penalty in midweek but looks to be the odd man out after the arrival of Daniels, with the Senegalese unlikely to displace the in-form Ian Lawlor between the posts.
Rocky Rotherham looking for reboot
Goalkeeper issues have also reared their head for the visitors, with first-choice keeper Daniel Iversen – who excelled for Oldham against Rovers in the FA Cup last season – a late call-up to the Danish national team. That means veteran stopper Lewis Price could step in this weekend although the Welshman has been injured of late, meaning that a league debut for Laurence Bilboe cannot be ruled out. If called upon, Bilboe could not be given a tougher task than a heated local derby to make his senior bow for the club.
The Millers have made a solid start to the season but are yet to find their mojo since relegation back to League One. The arrival this week of Rangers winger Jake Hastie on loan should give them more balance up front, allowing Freddie Ladapo to be deployed centrally and use his movement to cause problems for the Rovers defence. Youngster Ben Wiles was Rotherham’s goalscorer in the draw with Tranmere last Saturday and has made a great start to the season, whilst captain Joe Mattock is expected to return in defence.
View from New York Stadium: Josh Yeardley
We also sat down with Millers fan Josh Yeardley this week to pick his brain on the derby game and his side's start to the 2019/20 season.
ITEN: How would you rate your team’s start to the season after relegation?
Although we have 7 points out of a possible 12, I don’t think we’ve been that great and I’m sure many Rotherham fans will agree. We lost a lot of players and signed 12 players this summer so you could possibly argue that they haven’t gelled as quickly as we would have liked, but at this moment in time it doesn’t seem like a typical Rotherham side. I’m hoping that can change sooner rather than later. After seven games in all competitions I’d probably rate it as a 5.5. out of 10.
ITEN: Who are the key men Rovers need to watch out for in this game?
I’d probably say Matthew Olosunde, our American right back that we signed on a free from Manchester United this summer. He has electric pace and isn’t afraid of bombing forward causing the opposition left back and left midfielder problems. He’s constantly improving defensively and he’s proving to be a key player as well.
Other players I’d say are Ben Wiles, an attacking midfielder who came through our academy and broke onto the scene properly last season. He got his first league goal last week so his confidence will be sky high after starting this season extremely well.
Although he hasn’t scored as many as we would have liked Freddie Ladapo will be another to watch, if we get the ball to him in the box and the Rovers back line aren’t switched on then you could be in bother.
Chiedozie Ogbene is a new recruit from Brentford, a raw talent whose pace and tricky caused Tranmere problems last week so he’s another one for Rovers to keep an eye on.
ITEN: Three away wins on the bounce now for the Millers, are you finding a more effective way to play away from New York Stadium?
It’s amazing, last season we struggled massively away from home and so far this season we are enjoying playing away. The 4-3-3 formation we have deployed this season certainly benefits us and is more effective when we play away from home. I think in this division we can be braver although last season we were under no pressure to perform away from the New York Stadium as no one expected us to stay up.
ITEN: Both Rotherham and Rovers have only played four games in the league due to postponements. Do you think that fresher legs will help both sides heading into September?
I’m not 100% sure it matters at this point of the season, it’s the second month and the players shouldn’t really be tired or fatigued. I’m sure both sets of supporters and both teams’ managers would possible have preferred to have played the games that have been postponed. I know Warne would have, he mentioned he’d have rather had postponements later on in the season to give our side a rest and a potential advantage over teams above us.
ITEN: Finally, what are your thoughts on the decision by South Yorkshire Police to once again make this fixture an early kick-off?
I’m not a huge fan of 12:30 kick-offs and I know other fans that aren’t either. There are fans that would have liked to go to this game but due to working till 1pm or 2pm can no longer do so. As soon as the fixtures came out I knew the kick-off time would have changed for this game, I’m just surprised it wasn’t chosen to be on Sky. The police decision to make this game an early kick-off is to prevent supporters from getting drunk and causing trouble. Do they fail to realise that Wetherspoons opens at about 7 in the morning?
Finally, we lay out the expected starting XI for both Doncaster Rovers and Rotherham United for the game ahead.