Rotherham United manager Andy Scott is hoping to taste success in the FA Cup as the Millers set out on the road to Wembley against non-league Barrow tomorrow. Ian Appleyard reports
A TRIP to Barrow on a cold and wet November afternoon is unlikely to offer ‘the magic of the FA Cup’ that Rotherham United are chasing this season.
Manager Andy Scott could even be forgiven for cursing his luck after the draw for the first round was made.
Three years ago, Scott took his former club Brentford to Cumbria for a televised second round tie and came home on the wrong end of a 2-1 defeat.
Not surprisingly, he wants to avoid a repeat tomorrow – especially as the Millers have just got back to winning ways.
Victory over Barrow is just as important as last weekend’s result in the league against Aldershot. Anything less could spark the jitters.
Scott’s brief when appointed last April was to secure promotion out of League Two this season.
With five games gone, the Millers sat top of the table and had 13 points from a possible 15. Everything was going to plan.
September and October, however, brought only one victory in 12 games – dragging the club to 14th in the table, five points adrift of the play-off zone.
Scott kept his nerve and refused to panic. He now says results have ‘turned the corner.’
“If you start changing things, it gives the impression that you didn’t know what you were doing in the first place and what you were doing was probably wrong,” he reflected. “But I always believed that we were going the right way about things and sometimes luck has got to turn for you.
“We have worked hard to earn a bit of a break and now we have got to keep our concentration and maintain the standards we have been setting. I still get people saying ‘you have only won one in God knows how many’ but the way I look at it is we are four games unbeaten. We are in a good run of form now and we have turned the corner.”
Both the Millers and their manager are certainly due a change of luck in the FA Cup. Scott’s personal highlight was a trip to Wembley with Sheffield United in 1993 but, even then, he was not allowed to play in the semi-final against Sheffield Wednesday because he was cup-tied.
The Millers, meanwhile, have lost in the first round for five of the last six years and have never progressed beyong the fifth round.
“I would love a Cup run. I have not really had too many in the FA Cup in my career as either a player or manager,” he sighed. “When we got to Wembley with Sheffield United it was my first season in professional football and I thought ‘Wow it doesn’t get much better than this!’
“Unfortunately, for the next four years I think we played Manchester United in the third round three times – so we didn’t have chance to go much further. At Brentford, we didn’t really do too great, we had a couple of second rounds and what have you – but my record in the FA Cup is not terrific.”
Barrow, who are currently 12th in the Blue Square Premier League, have enjoyed a fair amount of success in recent years – progressing to third-round ties against Middlesbrough and Sunderland in 2009 and 2010 respectively.
Although Brentford’s defeat at Holker Street can help Scott in his preparations, he admits that it is still an unenviable draw.
“This is probably the hardest tie in the draw for us,” he said. “It is going to be tougher than most games we have in the league because they are going to raise their game, the crowd are going to be expecting an upset, and there will be blue and white balloons, flags, and shirts all over the place. We are away from home against a non-league side who want to turn us over. The changing rooms are tight and it’s a bit of a journey. We have to stand up and be counted.
“To be fair, the game three years ago should not have been played,” he recalled. “It wasn’t a nice night but it was live on Setanta and they were putting sand on the pitch five minutes before kick-off. Our goalkeeper was sent off after five minutes and we had a first-year scholar on the bench.
“We lost but Brentford went on to win promotion that year – hopefully we can win on Saturday and still get promoted.”
The Millers, meanwhile, have extended the loan signing of Notts County defender Jon Harley until January but he has not been granted permission to play in the FA Cup. On-loan Guy Branston is also ineligible.