Rotherham United: How defence is playing its part in Millers' promotion push
Captain Richard Wood has paid tribute to the Rotherham United mean machine that has helped thrust the Millers into League One promotion contention.
Rotherham, who entertain bottom club Rochdale on Saturday, are in fourth place after an unbeaten 14-match run which includes seven wins in their last seven fixtures.
The rise from midtable has coincided with manager Paul Warne picking a settled back five of goalkeeper Marek Rodak, right-back Josh Emmanuel, centre-backs Semi Ajayi and Wood and left-back Joe Mattock.
Rotherham had shipped 30 goals in their first league 20 outings, but that quintent have been so miserly since coming together three months ago that the Millers have conceded only nine times in their long sequence without a loss.
“It’s a settled defence and that’s what you need,” said Wood. “Semi’s been outstanding. Josh is young but he’s learning quickly and, now he’s got a run of games, he’s doing very well.
“Joe is consistent for us and hopefully I bring a calming influence in organising. Marek is young but he’s coming into his own. It always helps when you are winning because the confidence builds. We are looking strong.”
Wood, who headed the winner when Rotherham won 1-0 at Dale in October, has led by example after taking the armband when Lee Frecklington left for Lincoln City during the January transfer window.
“Frecks was brilliant for this club but players move on,” the skipper said. “It’s a proud time for me. I’ve been captain at all the clubs I’ve been at, apart from Charlton.
“I’m solid and dependable. I try to lead and organise everybody. I want to bring the lads on because they have got great ability. I just want to guide and help the lads show what they can do.
“It’s going well. Everyone has got trust in each other.”
New boy Matt Palmer knows what it takes to climb out of League One and says Rotherham have the quality to make it to the Championship.
The midfield man who went up with Burton Albion in 2016 said: “It’s a similar feeling now to then. It’s a strong squad with good competition for places. It’s more than good enough to get promoted.”
Palmer, who arrived from the Brewers in January, made his debut in the 2-0 home win over AFC Wimbledon on February 3 but has had to spend most of his time on the bench because of the form of Will Vaulks and Richie Towell.
“The gaffer showed faith in me straight away when I arrived and hopefully I can get more chances to show what I can do,” he said.
“I did well, but it was the first time I’d played in two or three months. I know I can do a lot better.
“I’ve come here to play. I played 40-odd games in the Championship last season and did well.
“I want to play there again.”