MANAGER Paul Warne is confident Rotherham United will not suffer derby stage fright, second time around, against Doncaster Rovers tomorrow.
Expectation will be high among the home contingent in a sell-out crowd, buoyed by the Millers’ magnificent winter renaissance, which has seen them go 13 matches unbeaten in League One.
Anticipation was also rife in Rotherham’s ranks ahead of the reverse fixture at the Keepmoat Stadium in November when Warne believes that the visitors – and hosts – let the occasion get to them in a 1-1 televised draw, with only a last-gasp leveller from Kieffer Moore earning the Millers a dramatic point.
But Warne thinks tomorrow’s game will be a much better spectacle and feels that his Millers side will bring plenty more to the table and showcase their improvement in a game that he believes will possess the feel of a “play-off” encounter.
On the eagerly-anticipated full house, which will include 2,578 visiting Rovers supporters, Warne said: “It should help the lads. Donny are bringing a good crowd and it will give our fans something to sing against.
“I am expecting it to feel like a play-off game, like a second leg of a play-off. It is our job, as a staff, to just focus the lads on the game not the occasion.
“At their place the occasion, I think, got the better of all the players.
“It was a poor game. Neither team really played that well. I am hopeful it will be a good game of football on Saturday, a good advert for League One.”
Warne’s Rovers counterpart Darren Ferguson believes that tomorrow’s derby will be no place for the faint-hearted and has warned his side to prepare for a direct ‘route one’ onslaught from United.
Ferguson has been struck by the Millers’ transformation under Warne and their physical edge and believes that Rovers must brace themselves for an aerial bombardment.
He said: “It will be tin hats on Saturday. I will be honest, I have not seen a team play like this for a long time.
“The way they just throw the ball in the box – it is just constant. Any throw-in anywhere near 30 or 40 yards, bang, it is in the box.”
It is Rovers’ first league visit to their neighbours since 2006 and their maiden competitive trip to the AESSEAL New Stadium.
They have not won on their last 11 trips to the Millers, with their last victory coming way back in March 1985.