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Blues Visit Rotherham Aiming to Stretch Lead at Top
Monday, 27th Jan 2020 17:14

League One leaders Town visit second-placed Rotherham on Tuesday evening looking to cement their place at the top of the table (KO 7.45pm).

The Blues go into the match a point ahead of the Millers, who were top until their 2-1 defeat at Peterborough on Saturday. The South Yorkshiremen are level with third-placed Wycombe, who weren’t in action at the weekend, who face Blackpool at Adams Park on Tuesday.

Town boss Paul Lambert is expecting a difficult match against one of the five sides to beat the Blues in the league this season.

“It’s another hard game, they beat us here,” the Town manager said after Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Lincoln City.

“It’s a different type of game. They came down with us last year and they’ve done well to be up there as well. They’ve kept a few of their players from last year, it’ll be a tough game but we’re playing well.”

Lambert doesn’t anticipate the Millers being overly affected by their weekend loss having previously been unbeaten in seven in the league, winning the last five.

“No, because I think they’ve got too much experience there, I think they’ve got some experienced guys,” he said.

“The stadium is good, the field will be good, so we have to go and come up with a game plan so we can go there and try and win.”

The Blues boss says he expected Rotherham to be among the challengers at the top of the division.

“Yes, just because they’ve kept a few of their guys [from their time in the Championship] and physically they’re very, very strong, really strong. They use their physicality well,” he said.

“Their set plays are really good, you know everything will come into your box and we’re not the tallest side, so we have to come up with some way of combatting it. But equally, it’s going to be a hard game for them.”

Since the turn of the year and their return to form, which has seen them go five League One games unbeaten and pick up 11 points while returning to the top of the table, the Blues have fielded a settled side with the same XI starting the last two matches.

Asked whether there might be changes on Tuesday, the second of three games in eight days with Peterborough visiting Portman Road on Saturday, Lambert said he would assess the situation ahead of the journey to South Yorkshire.

“I’ll have a chat with the guys and see how they feel,” he said. “But the guys are playing really well at this moment in time. On Sunday we train, on Monday we train and then we travel. I’ll see how they are.”

Will Norris looks certain to continue in goal behind the back three of skipper Luke Chambers, James Wilson and Luke Woolfenden. Luke Garbutt and Gwion Edwards are again set to be the wing-backs.

In midfield, Lambert will want to continue with Flynn Downes and Emyr Huws behind Alan Judge but may have concerns regarding the Welshman playing too many games in such a short space of time. If that is the case, Cole Skuse seems Huws’s likely replacement.

Teddy Bishop is likely to be hoping Lambert is considering resting Judge for a game, the academy product having impressed as a sub in recent matches after returning from the knee injury he suffered in pre-season.

Like Huws, Lambert may have concerns regarding Will Keane playing three games in eight days, in which case James Norwood will return to the XI. However, unless there is a fitness worry it seems likely the former Manchester United trainee will continue alongside Kayden Jackson.

Blues wing-back Edwards will be walking a disciplinary tightrope having amassed nine bookings with a 10th leading to a two-match ban.

Rotherham will have striker Kyle Vassell and midfielder Matt Crooks back in their 18 after they missed the defeat to Posh.

Vassell has been sidelined due to a calf injury while Crooks was left out for personal reasons, his close friend and former Huddersfield team-mate Jordan Sinnott having been killed at the weekend.

“We knew earlier in the week that Vass was going to struggle,” Millers boss Warne told the Sheffield Star. “He should be OK for Tuesday night which is good news.

"Crooksy's personal issue was at 11am in the team hotel. He jumped in a taxi and went home. Our thoughts are with him.

"I want my best players available. If Crooksy's back and Vass is back, even if I don't start them they are better options off the bench. I don't mean that rudely to anyone.

"They have been pivotal to our recent run of form, Crooksy especially. Vass has been crucial in the last few games. Vass should be all right, which is good news."

Right-back Billy Jones (hamstring) and centre-half Clark Robertson (groin) both remain unavailable.

Norwich-born Warne is very much looking forward to the top of the table clash.

“It was always going to be a big game anyway, after we both got relegated from the Championship," he told the Yorkshire Post.

“Being a Norwich fan it makes it an even bigger game for me but I think we just need a response [after the Peterborough loss].

"If we play as well as we can and lose, then I accept that but I just think there were a lot of bad decisions made by even some of my more experienced players on Saturday.”

He added: “It is nice being top of the league, with Ipswich winning it makes the game even more exciting.

“Obviously it is just about where you finish at the end of the season but the longer you stay on top the better chance you give yourself.”

Town have won 15 of the previous games between the sides, all of which have been in the league, eight have ended in draws, with the Millers having won 10.

In October at Portman Road, Rotherham inflicted Town’s second League One defeat of the season and their second in four days as Crooks netted twice to secure the Millers a 2-0 victory. The midfielder struck first on 11, then added the second three minutes after the restart.

The teams last met at the New York Stadium in August 2018 in last season's second game, Michael Smith grabbing a 90th-minute winner as Paul Hurst’s Blues were beaten 1-0 by the club where he spent most of his playing career.

Town had been on top for most of game and were denied two very strong penalty claims before the Millers’ striker hooked home following a corner.

The Rotherham squad includes ex-Town keeper Lewis Price. The 35-year-old joined Town as an academy scholar from Southampton and went on to make 74 starts and one sub appearance for the Blues between 2004 and 2007.

Millers winger Chiedozie Ogbene had a spell on trial with the Blues in January 2018 - along with his Limerick team-mate Barry Cotter - before joining Brentford.

Tuesday’s referee is Marc Edwards from Tyne and Wear, who has shown 58 yellow cards and one red in 22 games so far this season. Edwards will be taking charge of his first Town match.

Squad from: Norris, Holy, Edwards, Donacien, Garbutt, Kenlock, Chambers (c), Wilson, Woolfenden, Earl, Skuse, Dozzell, Downes, Huws, Judge, Bishop, Nolan, Jackson, Keane, Norwood, Sears.

Photo: TWTD

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ipswichfann679 added 17:35 - Jan 27
Does anyone know if tickets will be sold on the gates tomorrow

Elto added 17:43 - Jan 27
We're still 3rd on that table. Boo.

Yes, 679, they will be on sale.

DifferentGravy added 17:57 - Jan 27

Really tough game. It would be fantastic to take 5+ points from the next three games and show that the team are capable of matching/beating teams at the top. Personally, would like to see Norwood and Teddy from the start but if the starting 11 from Saturday put a shift in I wont complain if we dont achieve the 'W'.

Really up to the lads to earn it now. Quality on the ball, create and take chances. Work ethic is a must. 17 games to go. Lets all stick together and get behind them



herfie added 18:40 - Jan 27
We can match them in terms of technical ability and footballing quality. Concern, as PL alludes to, will be matching their physical strength - which was very apparent down here. So another tough test, but one which the boys will hopefully meet head on, with confidence and belief. Don’t concede early, stay strong, win individual battles etc. COYB!

Letchworth_Blue added 19:33 - Jan 27
Tickets are available from the away ticket office from 6.30 tomorrow evening. Rang the Rotherham ticket office today.

ipswichfann679 added 19:40 - Jan 27
Letchworth_blue. Do you know rounds about how many tickets on sale

bluebare added 19:45 - Jan 27
I thought Downes is now banned for 2 games?

KiwiBlue2 added 19:56 - Jan 27
Only starting changes I would make are Norwood for Keane and perhaps give Huws a rest but Keane and Huws both on the bench ready to play the last half hour or so if necessary. The key issue regarding resting Huws is whether or not Mr Sideways-Backwards should replace him for this game or another option be selected as we need to take the game to Rotherham. We also need to be thinking about Saturday and taking 3 points off Peterborough. Four points from these two games would be a good haul...... coyb

PhilTWTD added 19:57 - Jan 27
Oops, posted wrong table. Amended.

Letchworth_Blue added 20:01 - Jan 27
I asked were there "plenty" and the chap at the ticket office said yes there will be no problem in getting a ticket. The away stand holds 2500 so for an evening game at Rotherham I would guess at least 500 will be on sale.

Saxonblue74 added 06:25 - Jan 28
Bluebare, Downes is 1 booking away from a 2 match ban. No wholesale changes and we should be ok. In terms of the physicality of Rotherham, maybe if we play our football and take the game to them we can counteract that? Keep the ball to feet and a team like Rotherham can't deal with it. Free kicks, bookings and reds galore!

therein61 added 07:08 - Jan 28
Just hope Huws is ok Kiwibblue2

dirtydingusmagee added 08:23 - Jan 28
really hope we can get a win tonight ,we cant give ground, its too tight, Coventry looking to be a big threat imo .Just wish we had more firepower. COYB

TimmyH added 10:11 - Jan 28
One of the few games away I would be content with a point particularly after they lost to Posh at the weekend so they'll be looking for an improvement. I think Keane deserves to keep his place after a good performance against Lincoln. COYB!

ArnieM added 11:43 - Jan 28
Rotherham are a big collective unit of a side, who easily bullied us off the ball at PR. They will no doubt repeat this approach tonight & I seriously doubt Towns make up will be able to cope with this and I can only see a defeat . I’d take a point now as the dinosaur McCarthy would say .

beornioblue added 11:48 - Jan 28

Would like to see Keane and Sears together for a spell think they could compliment each other well. Been impressed with Keane recently just wish he could add more goals to his game because his touch and hold up play is very very good.

BurleysGloryDays added 13:15 - Jan 28
watching those highlights again, there were some awful errors on our part. Communication shocking! Huws looked way off it in defense and attack.

Hopefully they're about to come across a very different Town side...


JewellintheTown added 13:24 - Jan 28
"Their set plays are really good, you know everything will come into your box and we’re not the tallest side, so we have to come up with some way of combatting it."

If only we knew of a really tall player we could put in the box to neutralise that, eh Paul?

JewellintheTown added 13:35 - Jan 28
Statistically our table topping away form should hopefully see us with a win over Rotherhams average home form, so I fancy our chances tonight. We've got better players if they play like they're capable of. I can see a few goals for us if the nerves settle quickly.

itfc58 added 13:36 - Jan 28
interesting to see that they do concessions for 60+ something that we used to do until we raised it to 65 to allegedly keep us in line with everybody else !

herfie added 15:35 - Jan 28
Well spotted itfc58. Note, also, they offer an Armed Forces reduction; commendable initiative by Rotherham, which ME might like to consider. Potential for attracting support from both Colchester and Suffolk based Army and RAF units.

BlueArrow added 15:57 - Jan 28
They are not alone giving concessions to the 60+ we were lied to

Linkboy13 added 16:27 - Jan 28
Can't understand people on here wanting changes i thought the rotation system had been thrown in the bin.Same team for me if all fit Teddy came on Saturday didn't look anywhere near fit perhaps give him another 30mins at the end if required. Very impressed with Rotherham at Portman road we didn't look like scoring but they sat back behind the ball playing at home they will have to attack more which i think will suit us fancy us 2 1 .

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