Hasselbaink preparing Cobblers for different challenge as they go to free-scoring Millers

Cobblers boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink
Cobblers boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink says the Cobblers will be facing a different kind of challenge when they travel to free-scoring Rotherham United on Saturday.

The Town boss was delighted with his team’s showing in Tuesday night’s 0-0 draw at MK Dons, but as he prepares his players for yet another road trip he is warning them the Millers will provide a very different test to the one they faced at Stadium MK.

Keifer Moore

Keifer Moore

Robbie Neilson’s side are well known for their passing style of football, and they struggled to find any way through a well-organised Cobblers team, but Hasselbaink is expecting Rotherham to approach Saturday’s showdown in a very different manner.

“It is going to be a tough game, and we know that,” said Hasselbaink, who will leading his team on their fourth away game in the past five Sky Bet League One fixtures.

“Rotherham have lots of energy, they run around, they can be quite direct and will put you under pressure.

“They have got pace down the sides, they like to put crosses into the box, and it is going to be a challenge.”

Hasselbaink has already showed he is willing to rotate his team and field different formations depending on the opposition, and he admits the trip to the New York Stadium could be another day to tinker with things.

But he says the important thing is, that whatever line-up takes to the field, they work as hard as possible.

“There might have to be a different way for us to play,” said the Town manager. “That is because they have different strengths, and it will be a different game (to Tuesday), but again we have to compete,” he said.

“Maybe that will be in a different way, but if you compete you will give yourself an opportunity.”

Rotherham have been very much a boom or bust team to date this season, winning five and losing five of their 10 league games to date.

Four of those five wins have come at home, with the only blip on the radar a 2-0 New York Stadium defeat to Charlton, and in those four wins they have hammered in 18 goals, and scored five on three occasions.

Walsall and Oldham have been hit for a nap hand in their past two home fixtures, and leading the way in the Millers goal charts is Keifer Moore, who is the division’s top scorer with eight goals - seven of them coming at home.

Hasselbaink is well aware of the strengths of the big striker, but says there is a lot more to the Millers other than the Ipswich Town loan man.

“He (Moore) used to be at Yeovil, and I looked at him a few years ago,” said Hasselbaink.

“He is a big boy, a strong boy, and he puts himself about, but they have got more than him and we will have to rise to the challenge.”

The fact the Millers score so many goals means the Cobblers defence, and central defenders Ash Taylor and Aaron Pierre in particular, are going to be in for a busy afternoon.

The duo have done well in the past two games, forging a strong partnership that has pleased Hasselbaink, but he was quick to praise the midfield unit for their part in that.

“They (Taylor and Pierre) have done well, but I think the boys in front of them have made things a bit easier for them,” said the Town boss.

“That is important, and we mustn’t forget that, because the boys in front of them are doing a lot of work and protecting them. That is where it starts.”

The Cobblers go into the game without the services of Chris Long (hamstring), John-Joe O’Toole (groin), Shaun McWilliams (foot), Aaron Phillips (thigh) while midfielder Matt Crooks is a serious doubt after he suffered a knee injury at Milton Keynes in midweek.

Sam Foley, who has yet to feature for the club since signing for Port Vale in the summer. is available for selection after recovering from the injury he suffered in pre-season.