Rotherham United: Why Paul Warne thinks nearly 4,000 Millers fans can make the difference in derby

Paul Warne
Paul Warne

Manager Paul Warne believes Rotherham United’s huge away following could help tilt Saturday’s South Yorkshire showdown in the Millers’ favour.

Close to 4,000 away fans will make the trip to the Keepmoat Stadium for the League One lunch-time kick-off against Doncaster Rovers.

And Warne has revealed how much players can be inspired by such vociferous derby-day backing.

“I think a good away following is essential. Ever since I’ve been here, the away support has been pretty impressive for the size of the club,” said the former Rotherham player.

“It really does help you, especially in times of fatigue. When you’re tired and you’re running back and you can hear the crowd cheering you on, it just gives you that extra little bit. It does have a positive effect like that.

“Plus, when the lads walk on to the pitch to warm up and there are loads of people already milling around, it has that ‘big game’ feel. It gets more adrenaline into them. The game will be quicker than if nobody was there.”

Lewis Price

Lewis Price

The Millers, who head up the M18 in seventh spot for the clash with 17th-placed Rovers, are likely to be without midfielder Lee Frecklington and left-back Ben Purrington. Both are training after back and hamstring problems respectively but Warne doesn’t want to rush them back.

Warne’s men are on a run of three league matches without a win but lifted spirits with a 3-0 Checkatrade Trophy victory over Bradford City on Tuesday when No 3 goalkeeper Lewis Price played his way into Warne’s derby thinking.

First-choice keeper Marek Rodak is on international duty, and the boss said: “I have a decision to make between Pricey and Richard O’Donnell. Pricey did really well the other night and kept a clean sheet .

“We have always liked Pricey. Unfortunately, he has been behind two other keepers. He got himself a game and played really well and he has been training well. He is obviously in my thoughts.”

Ben Wiles

Ben Wiles

Rotherham are one of the most potent attacking teams in the division but have shipped too many goals from set-pieces for Warne’s liking.

However, the manager, who is looking to loan highly-rated teenage midfielder Ben Wiles to a League Two club in January, ruled out adding a defence coach to his backroom staff.

“I don’t think I need that,” he said. “I am really happy with all of my coaches. They are excellent. It’s not that we aren’t giving the lads information. At times, they just switch off. Unfortunately, players in League One do. People make mistakes and consistency is harder to find the further you go down.”

The Millers and Doncaster will do battle for the first time in more than 10 years. They last faced each other in January 2007 in League One when Rovers were 3-2 victors. Ritchie Partridge and Martin Woods scored for the visitors, while Paul Heffernan, 2, and Graeme Lee were on target for the home side.

Rotherham have been given an allocation of 3,916 tickets for Saturday. Yesterday, only a couple of hundred remained and the club could sell out by tomorrow afternoon’s deadline.

“When I think back to my goals when I played, the only ones I can properly remember are the ones where there were a lot of people there,” ex-striker Warne said.

“It’s a great feeling, especially if it’s in the end where your fans are. It’s even better than scoring at home when you do in front of a big away crowd.

“One of my favourite goals of all time was for Oldham at Huddersfield when we had about 4,000 fans in the away end and it was rammed.

“I didn’t even mean it. I was on the floor and a shot hit my back and went in. I went off like I’d scored an overhead kick!”

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