ROTHERHAM UNITED manager Paul Warne has labelled Hull City star turns Jarrod Bowen and Kamil Grosicki as the best wingers in the Championship – and is lamenting the fact they were not sold in the January transfer window.
The duo have been hugely influential in the Tigers’ dramatic transformation from relegation contenders to firm play-off candidates, with manager Nigel Adkins’s side seeking a sixth successive league victory on home soil this evening – against struggling Yorkshire rivals Rotherham.
You have to go back over half a century to the beginning of the 1966-67 campaign for the last time that Hull achieved such a feat at second-tier level.
The Tigers’ current purple patch has seen Bowen and Grosicki have direct involvement in 13 of their 16 goals scored in five consecutive home wins – scoring nine times between them and setting up a further four goals.
Acknowledging the need to keep the pair quiet to have any chance of registering a surprise result this evening, Warne said: “I think their front three are really good. Their two wingers are the best in the league on form.
“I was hoping one or two of them might have gone in the January window. I thought two or three would definitely have been on other people’s radar. In fairness to Hull they have managed to keep their better players.
“I think they have been able to because they are on the cusp of the play-offs. Potentially, with a lot of games to go, they could end their season in the play-offs and then you just do not know. The home form especially suggests they probably will.
“They (Bowen and Grosicki) are very good and we have to obviously deal with them. If we do that at source without the ball getting to them it would help.
“When you watch the opposition you look for strengths and weaknesses, but you cannot help but look at the strengths. We have watched them and they are very good players, but they will watch us and think the same hopefully.”
After slipping under the radar in the past few months, Hull’s form, more especially at home, has marked them out as a real play-off package in recent times, with Adkins admitting that his side will now have to deal with increased expectation – more especially in home matches.
A need to chalk up another success in East Yorkshire is also heightened by the fact that Hull lost 2-0 at top-six rivals Derby on Saturday – their second successive away league defeat.
Adkins said: “We have been very good at home and have kept loads of clean sheets. The expectation will be that we have to win this game, but we know that this will be a tough game.
“We know what the Championship is and we cannot just turn up and think we will get three points. We have got to be bang on it. That will be the message.
“It is a totally different game to Saturday at Derby. Rotherham will be a threat. They have created more chances from set-plays than any team in the division.
“That is across all of the Championship. The ball will be coming from all over the pitch.
“We can have all the ball we want, but if we do not defend that threat from set-plays we are going to have problems.
“We have got to make sure we are up for that in a big way.”
While Hull – seven points behind sixth-placed Bristol City – are striving for their own piece of history this evening Millers supporters are seeking to observe a milestone of a different sort.
You have to go back 40 matches to a 4-0 win at MK Dons in April 2016 for the last occasion that Rotherham triumphed in a Championship away fixture.
Warne may claim he is not overly concerned with what has happened in the past, but equally he acknowledges that achieving a precious victory on the road could have a huge psychological effect on the club’s survival fight.
Warne, whose fourth-from-bottom side have won just once in their past 16 matches in all competitions, said: “I would take a win any way I could as all the teams would in the bottom six. But a win away from home is like a double bubble.
“For anyone in the bottom six, I am not saying away games are a free hit as that is not true. Most teams in the bottom six would love a point on their travels, but three would be an absolute boost to the group.
“Then it would take us into the derby (Sheffield Wednesday) at the weekend in good fettle.
“But the lads are in pretty good fettle at the moment and there is good competition for places and I can mix it up if I need to and we will see what we get.
“It is 40 games away from home where we have tried to win. What can you do? You can only be as good as you can be and if the lads keep performing like they do, no matter which way the season goes, they will be heroes in my eyes.
“I do not look at records or keep anything of my career. I have no nostalgic bone in my body and cannot even remember the games I have played in.
“I just look at the next game and think, ‘we can win this’. I have not got the time to look back and wonder. That does not do anything for me.”
Last six games: Hull LWDLWL Rotherham LLLLDD.
Referee: S Duncan (Northumberland).
Last time: Hull 5 Rotherham 1; May 7, 2016; Championship.