Rotherham United Analysis and Opinion

Rotherham United manager Paul Warne has challenged his side to build on their goalless draw with Middlesbrough on Tuesday.

The Millers earned their first away point of the season at the Riverside and Warne has challenged his side to go one better when they face Preston North End tomorrow.

“We’ve done really well” 

The 0-0 draw with Boro was the Millers’ first on the road this season, but their winless away run in the second tier has now stretched to 32 games. 

Manager Paul Warne has challenged his side to end that run tomorrow when they face Preston at Deepdale.

He said:

“I thought the lads did really well (at Middlesbrough), in fact, not a lot different than they have done in a lot of the other away games. It was a good performance and one we can build on. Our performances away from home have been good.
“Apart from Brentford, where we were outplayed, I think we have done really well, and we deserve more than what we have got on our travels. For us to get our first point on the board, we have got that out of the way, now we need our first win.”

Defence the key to survival?

The Millers kept their 5th clean sheet in 14 Championship games against Middlesbrough on Tuesday, more than double the number they kept when they were relegated from the Championship in the 2016-17 season.

Warne’s side have the joint-third best record for clean sheets in the second tier this season. To put that into context they’ve had more shut-outs than promotion chasing Sheffield United (4) and West Bromwich Albion (1). 

For a squad with the lowest budget in the league, the Millers’ defensive strength has been largely down to meticulous work by Warne and his staff on the training ground.

On the high number of clean-sheets, Warne said:

“We’re really pleased with it. We set out at the start of the season with a target of how many clean sheets we thought we could get and I think we’re on the same number as we were in League One last year with virtually the same team.
“We’ve worked really hard. Out of possession, I think we’re one of the better teams without the ball. We’re really organised and diligent I think.
“Obviously playing like that might affect us at the other end at times so it’s a thin line and being sensible. At the moment, I think we’ve got the balance right.”

“We’re trying everything we can”

Despite a strong defensive record, The Millers are the lowest scorers in the division with only 10 goals scored so far. 

Paul Warne’s side have failed to find the net in 6 of their 14 games (43%), which is the 3rd poorest record in the division. 

The lack of a cutting edge has seen Rotherham draw 4 out their last 5 games and Paul Warne says his side need to find the net more to turn those draws into wins.

He said:

“We set out in every game to get three points I think we’ve been unlucky not to win our last three home games.
“We’re trying everything we can, obviously we need to score more goals. I don’t think we’re conceding shed-loads but unfortunately, we’re not scoring a lot.
“We’re creating chances but at this level, you need to score one in two or one in three of your chances. At the moment we possibly are not but that isn’t through lack of trying.”

Goals galore at Deepdale? 

Billy Jones (knee) and Jon Taylor (hamstring) are expected to be fit this weekend after missing Tuesday night’s stalemate with Middlesbrough.

The Millers face Preston North End tomorrow and Alex Neil’s side have finally hit form after a difficult opening to the season.

19th-placed North End are unbeaten in their last 4 games, with 2 wins and 2 draws.

Preston had a strong campaign last year, finishing 7th in the Championship and Paul Warne has not been surprised by the Lilywhites’ upturn in fortunes.

He said:

“They’ve had a mixed start but loads of teams have. They did really well last year and I’m sure their fans will be expecting them to be slightly higher up. Once they get everything clicking, I’m sure they’ll be fine.
“They beat Wigan 4-0, they drew away at Hull and I went to watch them beat Brentford 4-3 (on Wednesday) which is no mean feat.
“Going forward they are really good, can score goals for fun but like every team in this league, they can concede as well.
“It’ll be a tough game, but if we’re at our best we can definitely compete.”

North End certainly aren’t shy of a goal or two, at either end of the pitch.

Neil’s side are the second highest home scorers in the Championship with 17 goals in 7 games, an average of 2.43 a game. 

One man the Millers will have to watch closely is Preston striker Callum Robinson.

The forward is North End’s top scorer with 8 goals to his name this term, including 3 in his last 3 outings. 

Robinson has already beat his tally for the whole of the 2017-18 campaign. 

On the flip side though, Preston have the worst defensive record in the league. They’ve conceded 28 goals in their 14 games so far.

They’ve also conceded more home goals than anyone else, letting in 13 goals already. 

With an average of just over 4 goals a game at Deepdale this campaign, could this finally be the day Warne’s men find their shooting boots and that elusive first win on the road this season?