AFTER contrasting performances brought two Cup victories this week, Rotherham United return to league action today looking to make up lost ground.
The Millers have gone five games without a win in League One, their last triumph coming on October 5 at play-off hopefuls Brentford.
This stumble in form has seen Steve Evans’s side slip to 10th but a return to winning ways today at Stevenage could be enough to propel the South Yorkshire club back into the play-off places.
United will, however, have to travel to Broadhall Way without Daniel Nardiello following the striker’s shock switch to Bury yesterday.
The 31-year-old was the top scorer at the New York Stadium last season with 19 goals as Rotherham clinched promotion.
This time around, he has netted five times in 10 appearances – the most recent of which came in a 1-1 draw at Walsall on September 21.
Nardiello came off the bench in the midweek win at Hartlepool but has now returned to Gigg Lane, where he enjoyed a successful loan spell in 2009 that brought four goals in six appearances.
No reason has been given for the surprise switch, with an official Millers statement saying only: “The deal will see him stay with Bury until January, when his situation will be reviewed.”
As for the Millers, Evans will be hoping for a performance similar to the one that proved far too much for Bradford City in the FA Cup a week ago.
Last season’s Capital One Cup finalists were blown away by their rivals, who much to Evans’s frustration were unable to match the highs of that performance in the midweek Johnstone’s Paint Trophy win at Hartlepool United.
United will find out their opponents in the northern area semi-final this morning when the draw is made on Sky show, Soccer AM.
Asked about his side’s display at the Victoria Ground, Evans, who made the maximum five changes from the team that beat Bradford 3-0, said: “The performance was poor, in terms of quality, ball retention and passing.”
The Millers manager is calling for a big improvement today, when striker Alex Revell, who was on top form in the FA Cup tie, and winger Ben Pringle are set to return.
Kari Arnason, though, is away on international duty with Iceland while midfield playmaker Michael O’Connor will be given as much time as possible to recover from a thigh problem.
Last six games: Stevenage LWWLWW, Rotherham United LDLDWW.
Referee: J Linington (Isle of Wight).
Last time: Stevenage 3 Rotherham United 0; January 5, 2011; League Two.
SkyBet odds: Stevenage to win 15-8; Rotherham United to win 11-8; Draw 12-5.