Fixture: Rotherham United v Northampton Town, Sky Bet League One
Date/time: Saturday, September 30, 3pm kick-off
Venue: New York Stadium
Forecast: 15C, cloudy
Outs and doubts: Rotherham: Jon Taylor (knee), Ben Purrington (hamstring), David Ball (illness/hamstring). Cobblers: Chris Long (hamstring), Shaun McWilliams (foot), John-Joe O’Toole (groin), Aaron Phillips (thigh), Matt Crooks (knee)
Betting: Rotherham 7/10, draw 14/5, Northampton 18/5
Form guide: Millers LWLWWW, Cobblers DLLDWW
Possible line-ups: Rotherham (4-5-1): Rodak; Vaulks, Inhiekwe, Wood, Mattock; Williams, Potter, Frecklington, Newell, Forde; Moore. Northampton (4-3-3): Ingram; Moloney, Taylor, Pierre, Buchanan; Poole, Grimes, Bowditch; Powell, Smith Revell
Man in the middle: Trevor Kettle
Last time out: Blackburn 2 Rotherham 0; MK Dons 0 Northampton 0
Most recent meeting: Saturday, February 2, 2013 – Rotherham 3 (Nardiello, Pringle, Noble) Northampton 1 (Carlisle)
Overall record v Rotherham: P40 W14 D9 L17
Opposition view: Following his side’s 2-0 loss to Blackburn in midweek, Millers boss Paul Warne plans to make changes for the visit of Northampton, saying: “I’m not berating them, but there are obvious changes that I’m going to have to make and I’m also considering a little tweak here or there.
“There will be obvious changes but there hasn’t been a lot wrong, so I don’t see the point in all of sudden looking at the team and worrying. I think sometimes you do get that odd game and like we’ve said, it was one poor 45 minutes, 10 games in.”
Among their ranks Rotherham boast in-form striker Kieffer Moore whose goal tally of eight already - the most in England’s top four tiers - has helped his team to 20 overall, the second highest in League One.
Cobblers connection: For the fourth successive away game, Alex Revell heads back to a former club. After Southend, Wigan and MK Dons, this time it’s a return to Rotherham for the 34-year-old who played more games for the Millers than any of his other 12 clubs, featuring 170 times and scoring 34 goals between 2011 and 2015. Revell is considered something of a Rotherham hero having scored twice – including a crackerjack half volley from all of 35 yards – in the 2014 play-off final win as United came from 2-0 down to beat Leyton Orient on penalties (see above video).
James Heneghan’s preview: The fixture list has not been kind to the Cobblers so far this season and it gets no easier this weekend when they are back on their travels and head to the New York Stadium where Rotherham United become their ninth top-half opposition just 11 fixtures this season.
It would be fair to say that Town have been given a thorough examination in these opening two months of the campaign; they are yet to face more than one side who sit below 14th in the current Sky Bet League One standings while playing virtually all of the promotion contenders.
Not only that, but Saturday will also be their fourth away game in their last five fixtures, with last weekend’s home clash against Bradford sandwiched between trips to Southend, Wigan, MK Dons and now Rotherham.
The Millers may have gone down with a whimper last season, relegated from the Championship as early as April 1 when they became the first side in the top six tiers of English football to go down, but they’ve settled quickly into League One, already notching four wins in their first five home games, including 5-1 thrashings of Oldham Athletic and Walsall on each their last two outings at the New York Stadium.
Their form on the road has been patchy, gathering just three points, but that’s of little concern this weekend given that the Cobblers, who themselves continue to travel poorly, are back on the road for their fourth of five away games in 17 days.
Among their ranks, Rotherham boast in-form striker Kieffer Moore whose goal tally of eight already – the most in England’s top four tiers – has helped his team to 20 overall, the second highest in League One.
The 25-year-old Ipswich Town loanee looks set to overcome a groin injury to take to the field against Northampton, although fellow summer signing and key man David Ball, bought from Fleetwood, is unlikely to feature following hamstring and illness issues, while in-form winger Jon Taylor is also out with a knee injury.
Performance-wise, Town are improving by the game and that was exemplified in Tuesday’s draw at MK Dons, but until good play turns into goals and performances into points, fears over where they are destined to end up this season will persist.
It’s now over 330 minutes of football since Town last found the net, though Hasselbaink has declared himself pleased with the way his side are progressing since he took over almost a month ago.
Now more organised and robust, they will need to continue that improvement in South Yorkshire if they have any desire to end their away day troubles and return home with a point or more.
Like their opponents, Town are not helped by key absentees this weekend as injuries begin to tot up with Chris Long and Matt Crooks joining John-Joe O’Toole, Shaun McWilliams and Aaron Phillips on the treatment table.
Dean Bowditch’s lively second-half cameo at MK Dons in midweek could earn him a first start since the opening day of the season, but there’s also the likes of Billy Waters and George Smith to consider, while Sam Foley must also be close to a long-awaited first Cobblers appearance.
The rest of the team picks itself. Matt Ingram is a certainty in goal, the back four are now settled while midfield duo Matt Grimes and Regan Poole have clicked perfectly as a partnership, bringing balance and solidity to the team.
It wasn’t so long ago when Rotherham and Northampton played each other in League Two – Clarke Carlisle on target for the Cobblers in a 3-1 defeat in their last meeting in 2013 – but now it’s in the division above where they do battle.
All indications point towards a home victory but Town, improving bit by bit, are no longer the pushovers they once were.
Prediction: Rotherham United 1 Northampton Town 1