Rotherham United vs Bradford City FA Cup preview
@New York Stadium on Saturday 9 November, 2013
By Andrew Baxter
Of all the possible FA Cup draws, it had to be this one, didn’t it? Away to the team with the manager we love to hate, the pantomime villain that is Steve Evans.
It’s fair to say that I am not Evans’ biggest fan. Where do we start? Well, there was his 20-month ban from the FA whilst in charge of Boston United, for “contract irregularities” (including false salary payments) in 2003. Or perhaps his one-year suspended prison sentence in 2006, for tax evasion. Or maybe his 10-match ban during the 2008/09 season, for being repeatedly being sent to the stand and for abusing match officials. Did I mention he was suspended for six games for using “abusive language and behaviour towards a club official” at Valley Parade, after the infamous Crawley “brawl” game, in 2012?
I find it appalling how someone of his character, with his background, is still able to forge a career in football. His comments about Bradford City and Phil Parkinson last April (they will end the season with nothing, and Parkinson will not be at Valley Parade by August 2013) were fortunately proved very wrong, and such comments will give the City players, and Parkinson, extra motivation to go out there on Saturday and perform.
The side that Parkinson puts out on Saturday is anyone’s guess, but a strong side looks likely, given that the players have an eight day rest after this fixture until the Coventry game.
Connor Ripley may get only his second start in goal for City, should Parkinson elect to rest Jon McLaughlin. As for the defence, Stephen Darby will continue at right back, with any two from Rory McArdle, Matthew Bates, Luke Oliver, Matt Taylor and Carl McHugh occupying the two centre back berths. Taylor, impressive whilst out on loan at Colchester, may be given a start in this game, and it looks likely that James Meredith will continue at left-back.
In midfield, Kyel Reid, who has been in very impressive form of late, will start on the left wing, with either Garry Thompson or Raffaele De Vita occupying the right. In the centre of midfield, with no Ricky Ravenhill, following his loan move to Northampton, Parkinson has to pick two from Gary Jones, Jason Kennedy, and Nathan Doyle. In attack, the Hanson-Wells combination looks set to continue, although recent signing Caleb Folan or even youngster Oliver McBurnie may replace one of the striking duo.
Parkinson, on the club’s official website, has commented on the increasing involvement of McBurnie in the upcoming fixtures. McBurnie has been in sensational form for the youth team, (17 goals in 10 games, with four hat-tricks) and, with strikers Alan Connell and Andy Gray being told that they are both free to go out on loan, it appears that Parkinson is attempting to integrate McBurnie into the squad.
As for City’s opposition on Saturday, they have been struggling for form lately, too. With just two points from their last five games, including an embarrassing 4-0 defeat at home to Swindon, Rotherham’s early season promised has halted, and The Millers’ find themselves tenth in the League One table. Their last game was a 2-2 draw at home to Colchester, in which the U’s scored in the 95th minute to rescue a point.
Should Rotherham continue with the same line-up that drew with Colchester, then Pablo Mills will appear in the centre of defence. Mills was one of the Crawley players sent off in the infamous brawl at Valley Parade, with the other Crawley defender dismissed, Claude Davis, also now at Rotherham.
Evans may play either a three or a four-man midfield, depending on the positioning of Kieran Agard, who has expressed his desire to play up front. Bournemouth loanee Matt Tubbs has been out of form recently, so Daniel Nardiello may be preferred up front. Alongside him could be Alex Revell, who suits Rotherham’s somewhat direct style of play, with his 6ft 3in stature a perfect foil for the pace and dribbling of Agard, and the crossing ability of both Lee Frecklington and Ben Pringle.
City do not have a very good track record against Evans, however. In the four games City have faced the widely-disliked Millers manager, we have lost all four. Saturday, therefore, would be the perfect opportunity to set this record straight. It will be a tough game, but it is by no means an impossible task.
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The players (and other staff) just need to rise above all the petulant kicks, pushes, time wasting and general gamesmanship and play their own game. Tranmere wound them up and they very naively fell for it. Ignore them, beat them and eventually they will go away.
I can’t go unfortunately as my wife’s due to give birth today (nothing doing yet mind) but i’ll hopefully be listening on the radio wherever I may be!