STEVE EVANS is keen to reaffirm Rotherham United’s love affair with the FA Cup, which has turned sour in the past decade.
During the Millers’ sojourn in the lower leagues following relegation from the Championship in 2004-05, they have failed to reach the third round in seven consecutive seasons and have suffered round-one exits on five occasions, losing to the likes of non-League Forest Green and Luton Town along the way.
Millers manager Evans is hoping some of his FA Cup magic rubs off against Stevenage today, having taken previous club Crawley Town to the fifth round in the past two seasons, claiming some giant-killing scalps and highs along the way.
The Millers’ last moment of cup kudos came in 2001-02 when they knocked out top-flight side Southampton at Millmoor in a 2-1 upset, thanks to goals from Richie Barker and John Mullin.
On the task facing them now, Evans said: “I am told that the club have not had a fabulous cup record in the past decade and I love cup runs, from the experience I had at Crawley, which included going to Old Trafford.
“I know how good a run can be for everyone at the club.”
Today’s tie is the first in the world’s oldest cup competition at the New York Stadium, but Evans acknowledges that opponents Stevenage will start as favourites this afternoon and feels the Millers will have to be at their very best to get anything out of the game against the Hertfordshire outfit, riding high in fourth spot in League One.
He said: “They will come here as favourites and deservedly so. Gary Smith has come in and added to what they had before, which was the start of a revolution there.
“I watched them play at Coventry earlier this season and they were impressive and won easily. It is a big challenge for us.
“But it is about how we play and we will need most, if not all, of our players on top of their game.”
Evans has praised Hull City counterpart Steve Bruce for allowing him to field new loan signing Jamie Devitt today.
On the favour granted by Hull, knocked out of the cup by Evans’s Crawley last term, he added: “We are grateful to Steve Bruce – who has been different class – for making the move happen.
“I said to him that it was most important that Jamie could play in the cup for us and Steve had a chat with the young man and it was all agreed and he is really looking forward to it.
“We have watched Jamie a few times and the supporters will like him. He is a proper footballer and he likes getting at defenders and he is very similar to young Josh Morris, who we got from Blackburn.”