REFERENCE the term ‘double’ to Rotherham United assistant-manager Richie Barker and he should instantly get your drift.
After jubilantly watching the Millers’ barnstorming second-half rally unfold from the dug-out in the 3-2 weekend victory at MK Dons – where he was a former number two and one-time caretaker-manager – Barker will be pinning his hopes on more of the same at another place he knows well in Fratton Park.
Barker managed Portsmouth for a short spell in 2013-14 before being sacked, with his memories of the Millers’ last appointment in this quarter of Hampshire proving a momentous one in September 2017 when they claimed their first league away win in 512 days – almost 17 months – in a 1-0 triumph.
Tonight’s game is given added piquancy by the presence in the home ranks of Kenny Jackett, who spent an ill-dated 39-day six-game spell in charge of Rotherham in 2016.
More intrigue is provided by the fact that the occasion pits together two sides who are in strong recent form, with Pompey having lost just once at home in the league since mid-January and the Millers triumphant in six away games so far in 19-20, including four in a row.
Barker said: “We must be in the top two in the league for our away record.
It is arguably two in-form teams and two teams who at the start of the season would have been looking to be in and around the top six.Richie Barker
“I would imagine Portsmouth will be in the top few if they have not lost at home as well and there’s obviously a little bit of recent form.
“It is arguably two in-form teams and two teams who at the start of the season would have been looking to be in and around the top six.”
Tonight’s game sees the Millers also renew acquaintances with former winger Ryan Williams, who left in the summer after rejecting fresh terms.
After a stop-start injury-hit opening to his time at Pompey, the Australian is starting to come into some semblance of form and netted in the 3-0 weekend victory at Rochdale.
Barker added: “It is no surprise that once he gets a good run of games he is a top League One player as we saw a couple of years ago and obviously he played a big part for us in the Championship last year.
“He is a good signing and I am sure he is enjoying his time (there) at the minute with one defeat in 11.”
Last six games: Portsmouth WDDWWW; Rotherham LWWLWW.
Referee: A Coggins (Oxon).
Last time: Portsmouth 0 Rotherham 1, September 3, 2017; League One.