ROTHERHAM United manager Paul Warne has urged his side to maintain their defensive solidity when they host Oxford United this weekend.
Rotherham have the third best defence, based on goals conceded, in League One this season with only Ipswich Town and Burton Albion conceding fewer times than Warne’s men.
The Millers are five points adrift of the automatic promotion spots but have played a game less than second-placed Wycombe Wanderers.
“Most teams who do really well, it is almost always based on their defensive strength,” said Warne.
“The goalkeeper, Daniel Iversen, has done really well and Matthew Olosunde has had a great start to the season.
“Michael Ihiekwe has been my stand-out performer in the back five, he has been excellent.
I don’t buy into that our defensive record is only down to them, it comes from the front.Paul Warne
“But I don’t buy into that our defensive record is only down to them, it comes from the front and how hard we ask our front line to work. And how much work our midfielders have to do and when it comes to defending set-pieces it just isn’t just about the back four.
“So in that respect they have done really well and they give you a platform to always stay in the game. Apart from the Lincoln defeat, which was tough to take, we haven’t lost by more than a goal. We are always in the games.”
Oxford United are one point ahead of Rotherham in the League One table but have played two more games.
However, they are unbeaten in their last six league outings and have averaged almost three goals a game in that run.
“Oxford are similar to Coventry, they really keep the ball and recycle it all the time,” added Warne.
“They like to have the ball more than the opposition in every game and they comprehensively beat Doncaster last weekend. But they are a team that make the pitch really wide and really big.
“I don’t expect them to come and sit behind the ball and be happy with a draw.
“They are the form team in the league.”
The Millers beat Coventry 4-0 at the start of October and Warne added: “They are a better version of Coventry, to be honest.
“Because they have got a bit more experience and nous in their team.
“I am expecting a really tough game and we are going to have to work really hard to get the ball off them.
“And when we do get it, we need to punish them.”