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PREVIEW: Rotherham are hoping to clinch fourth place against in-form Blackpool

In the final game of the regular League One season, Rotherham United host in-form Blackpool as they look to hold on to fourth place in the table.

Paul Warne’s Rotherham United side narrowly lost 2-1 in their last fixture to Plymouth Argyle, conceding a contentious penalty in the 91st minute which was scored by Graham Carey. Despite performing admirably in that game, Warne is looking to tweak his side that will face Blackpool in order to give more of his players additional match sharpness ahead of the play-offs.

The Millers are in fair form after winning three out of their last five games.

The visitors who are in 12th place in the league table have entered a period of great form and are unbeaten in their last five games. What is even more impressive is that four of these matches have resulted in the Lancashire side clenching all three points. The Tangerines drew their last game 1-1 with Shrewsbury.

The home side have no fresh injury concerns going in to the game. Darren Potter has returned to training but is not match-ready due to getting hurt in training. Striker Jamie Proctor has been ruled out for the whole season.

Gary Bowyer’s Blackpool side may have to do without Armand Gnanduillet after taking a knock in their previous game with Shrewsbury. Their top scorer Kyle Vassell who has scored eleven times so far this season also has some slight fitness concerns ahead of the game.

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Blackpool have clenched 14 clean sheets this season while the Yorkshire side also have the exact same number of clean sheets, this includes the exact same number for those at home and away which is seven for both.

Rotherham will only need a draw in this game to hold on to fourth place in the league.

In the last meeting between the two sides, Millers striker David Ball scored twice in the last 15 minutes to give Rotherham their first win in eight league games. Defender Kelvin Mellor put the hosts 1-0 up just after the 20th minute mark in style after smashing the ball in to the net with the outside of his foot, from 25 yards out. Richard Wood’s header in the second half could only find the crossbar in the 69th minute as the Millers piled on the pressure. Moments later Ball equalised for the Millers and he then completed his brace in the 87th minute with a header.

The game takes place on Saturday 5th May, 5.30 KO.

Follow me on Twitter: @GeorgeS_Sport

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Rotherham United to fly the flag ahead of the play-offs

A trio of Rotherham United supporters have successfully raised enough money to create a massive banner as the club aims to return to the Championship after sealing a play-off place, with a 2-0 victory over Bristol Rovers yesterday.

The flag which will be 12×12 metres in size was initially the idea of avid Millers supporter John Nixon. He took inspiration from a large banner displayed at Plymouth’s Home Park and wanted to raise the pre-match atmosphere at The AESSEAL New York Stadium. John then contacted fellow supporters Jenson Lambley and Peter Rhodes who were fully behind the idea and helped organise the effort to raise the £1100 that was needed to create the flag.

Jenson Lambley explained how it took just five days for Millers supporters to back the plans and raise the money needed: “We started a go fund me page and we thought it would take a huge amount of time. I organised for an advert to be displayed on the screen at yesterday’s game and we kept on sharing the page throughout the groups on Facebook. We even managed to get the club to put a tweet out to spread the word.”

“In addition to that The Sheffield Star gave us a mention of what we are trying to do and to also help spread the word. We appreciated every single bit of help highly.”

Lambley expressed his thanks to supporters and the football club who aided the cause: “To have hit our money target already just feels truly magnificent, the help we’ve received from the club is unbelievable and we can’t thank them enough for the high amount of support.”

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“It also shows how many fans are behind this great idea of bringing a flag to the New York Stadium to boost the atmosphere and get the fans going before the games”, he added.

It was revealed that the flag which was being manufactured in Cardiff would feature the club’s crest, with a red background along with white coloured text which reads “Rotherham United” and “The Millers”.

You can still donate by using the link below and all the extra funds will go to the Rotherham United Ladies.

https://www.gofundme.com/12×12-metres-giant-flag

Follow me on Twitter: @GeorgeS_Sport

 

INTERVIEW: Charlie Hawkes reveals the positives and negatives of vlogging football games

I spoke to young YouTuber and avid Rotherham United supporter Charlie Hawkes to gain his insight in to being a vlogger of football games. He also offered his thoughts on how he thought the Millers’ season would transpire.

Charlie first discussed what inspired him to start making videos of his experiences at football matches: “For a start there was your channel [George Sanders] and Dylan Lee-Horton’s too that made me want to start doing videos.” He added: “I also thought Talk Norwich City was really good too!”

The 14 year-old who supports Rotherham due to family influence contended that he has had issues with regards to him vlogging Millers games in the past: “At Walsall away a couple of Millers fans started shouting abuse at me and my friend James who was also making a video, but nothing too major has happened really.”

However Charlie explained how the majority of people have supported him and his YouTube channel: “My family know about the channel and they’re quite supportive and all my mates do too. I do occasionally get a bit of stick here and there for it though!”

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I myself have also received a few snide comments from people when I used to create videos at football games, but similarly to Charlie, I also had a lot of good people supporting me too.

Though Charlie did admit that he didn’t see YouTube as a sustainable career for himself in the future, he has clear aspirations for his ever-growing channel: “I’m very close to reaching 500 subscribers and that in my eyes is a massive milestone for me, but if I could ever gain more than 1,000 that would be a dream!”

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Charlie celebrating a goal in one of his videos.

When asked about which of his videos was his favourite, he exclaimed: “I don’t have one I think!”

We then turned attention to his beloved Rotherham United. Charlie revealed that his favourite player currently was “Super” Joe Newell.

Newell is a 25 year-old midfielder who is primarily used as a winger, but can also play in the centre of midfield too. He has scored seven goals so far for the Millers this season.

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So, will Rotherham United achieve promotion to the Championship? Charlie wasn’t so confident on this matter: “I would love us to clench promotion obviously, but I also don’t want us to be embarrassed like last season if we were to go up. In terms of confidence… I’d say I’m about 60% sure we’ll go up.”

The Millers were relegated from the Championship last season after finishing rock-bottom with a measly tally of just 23 points. The club are currently fourth in League One.

Make sure you go on this link to visit Charlie’s channel: 
https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCtOtK9QN_Tz1LofE-YClMbA
Follow me on Twitter: @GeorgeS_Sport
Thanks to Charlie for taking the time to talk to me and I wish him luck with his YouTube channel.
Watch my interview with Rotherham United midfielder Will Vaulks:

Rotherham United vs Fleetwood Town – A CRUCIAL game for The Millers

Rotherham United host Fleetwood Town on Saturday in what could prove to be a pivotal game for Rotherham’s chances of securing a play-off place.

The Millers, who currently reside in fourth in the standings went on an emphatic fourteen game unbeaten run which propelled them into the play-offs places. However, recent form has been inconsistent and has seen the Yorkshire club have gained three points just once in their last five. They lost 3-1 away at Charlton Athletic in their previous fixture.

That result was slightly tough on Rotherham who had a few positive spells in the game. It will be crucial that the Millers players do not drop their heads following this defeat. Rotherham United midfielder Will Vaulks was quick to share his frustration on social media after the result:

The visitors will be a tough test after vastly improving their fortunes following John Sheridan being appointed as first team manager, following the sacking of Uwe Rosler in February. The Cod Army are now on a seven game unbeaten run thanks to the 53 year-old’s guidance and have won their last four games. Their most recent fixture was a 2-0 victory over Bristol Rovers.

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The game is still important for both clubs, but for very different reasons.

It can be argued that a loss in the game could have worse implications for the Millers, though. Fleetwood appear like they are going to be safe, as they now sit in 13th place in the League One table with a tally of 51 points, though Sheridan did contend that: “I don’t think 51 points is enough, we still don’t know what is going to happen in this league, but I am only bothered about us.”

If the Millers do lose, and with the likes of Peterborough and Charlton chasing, the Rotherham gap ahead could be cut to just two points should those teams gain three points. Therefore a loss could pile pressure on Rotherham as the season is drawing ever nearer to closing, where consistency will most likely prove crucial for success.

With both sides still having lots to play for, it is likely to be a close affair at The AESSEAL New York Stadium.

Follow me on Twitter: @GeorgeS_Sport

Why Liverpool are too wasteful this season despite being second top scorers

Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool side have scored an impressive 61 goals so far this season, however the stats show that the Merseyside club could have scored more, wasting many of their clear cut chances this season.

Liverpool have the league’s second top goal scorer at their disposal in the form of Egyptian Forward, Mohammed Salah. The former Roma man who is well-known for his pace and flair has scored 22 goals in the 2017/18 campaign, just one behind Spurs Striker Harry Kane. The 25 year-old also has the second highest amount of shots dispatched with a tally of 103 this season.

Salah is also joint sixth in terms of the assists that he has made with a tally of seven. Mesut Özil and Riyad Mahrez have also gained this number so far.

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Despite the club having this special player at their disposal, they are still missing more chances this season compared to last. So far, the Reds have missed 45 big chances this season meaning they are the second highest wasteful club in the league. Like The Reds, Manchester City struggle to convert their chances, wasting the most opportunities in the league. City also did this in the season prior, unlike Liverpool who missed considerably less opportunities being in sixth place in terms of chances missed last season.

 Big chances wasted  Times hitting the woodwork  Overall shots on goal
 Liverpool in 2016/17: 35 18 640
 Liverpool this season (so far): 45 14 469

The fact that they have wasted ten more opportunities already this season compared to last is quite astonishing for a side with so many quality attackers available. This could be in relation to the change in their style of play.

Klopp seems to have majorly rid of a traditional striker role set out in his starting eleven. Instead he relies on the likes of wingers like the prolific Salah and Sadio Mané to supply the goals. This has in fact proved to be a crucial factor in the team’s success in the majority of games, however it could explain why more key chances are missed in front of goal without a native striker who would be specifically trained in that area. However, the correlation of touches taken by all the players this season is very similar to last.

The German manager has also seemingly worked more on his defence rather than attack this transfer window, as Klopp’s defensive frailties were exposed as the Reds had to endure some terrible defeats. This includes a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Manchester City and a 4-1 to loss Tottenham Hotspur earlier in the season.

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Therefore Klopp signed Dutch defender Virgil Van Dijk in January for £75 million to help out the back. Of course, Brazilian maestro Phillipe Coutinho leaving to Barcelona in that transfer window effected the squad too. It could also explain why they have missed more chances with his absence.

Liverpool have though, kept the same style of play in terms of going forward, unlike their changes at the back. They still maintain a high-work rate and emphasis on moving the ball around quickly.

Top 3 teams who completed passes:

 2016/17 Season  1. Manchester City  2. Liverpool 3. Arsenal
 2017/18 Season  1. Manchester City  2. Arsenal  3. Liverpool

This inability to put away clear-cut chances has proved hurtful for Liverpool at times in spite of currently residing in third place in the table.

For example in their recent outing to lowly Swansea City where the Reds lost 1-0, they had a staggering count of 21 shots compared to Swansea’s measly three. Missed opportunities in games like this will prove to be crucial come the end of the season if Liverpool are to hang on to their Champions League spot, as the likes of Chelsea and Tottenham linger closely behind.

Only time will tell if Liverpool can reverse this trend.

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Liverpool next face West Bromwich Albion.

Follow me on Twitter: @GeorgeS_Sport

Former Rotherham United player reveals what it was like playing for the club during the turbulent times

How aware were the players of the scale of the jeopardy facing Rotherham United during their years of near crisis? Former Millers full-back, Dale Tonge explains what it was like wearing the red shirt through this unstable period for the club, and indeed through the better times, too.

Rotherham United were threatened with extinction as they entered administration twice prior to 2008. Multiple points deductions would follow as a consequence, eventually resulting in relegation to League Two. The situation was extremely dire. Dale Tonge contended that even the players weren’t fully aware of how bad the situation was at the Yorkshire club, and stated: “On a personal note, I struggled being a single lad with a mortgage, but lads with families struggled more which was hard to see. The people who had worked for years at the club got made redundant too, which was an awful situation to be in as these selfless people are the heart and soul of a club!”

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Local businessman Tony Stewart took over the club as chairman, but they still had to sadly leave their native home of Millmoor in the 2008-09 season, after failure to come to an agreement with the ground’s Landlords. Millmoor had been the home of Rotherham United for over a century and Tonge who had the pleasure of playing there, enthused that: “Millmoor was my favourite place to play!”

The 32 year-old also described the nature of the 8,300 seat stadium: “It reminded me of when I was young watching games on the terraces. The stands were close in, which created a great atmosphere!”

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The Millers moved to a temporary home at the Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield. The 25,000 seater stadium had an athletics track surrounding the pitch, which made it incredibly hard for supporters to create an atmosphere. “No player or staff member liked the move to Don Valley”, remarked Tonge. “However, we knew the move was necessary. We played for Rotherham, but never actually visited there often, trained in Doncaster and played in Sheffield!”

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The Don Valley Stadium – Photo courtesy of Chris Sanders

“Overall we tried to make this ground a tough place to come and I think we achieved this, but it certainly never felt like home!”

The club finally returned home in 2012, as they moved to the state of the art AESSEAL New York Stadium. The aesthetically pleasing 12,000 capacity stadium was to be the secure home of the club, finally back in their own town. Tonge described how the stadium created a wave of much-needed “optimism and excitement” around the football club, which: “rewarded the fans and in particular the chairman who deserves it for all the hard work and patience in seeing the process through.”

The Millers enjoyed back-to-back promotion from League Two to the Championship at the stadium under lively manager Steve Evans, whom Tonge played under. The club are currently battling for promotion again from League One this season under manager and former player, Paul Warne.

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Finally, Tonge summed up his Rotherham United career which lasted between 2007-13: “I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the club and making memories there. It’s fair to say, I’ve had my downs too with me being injured far too many times, but this has made me a stronger person.”

“I was treated very well being a local lad and I was very proud to wear the shirt that a lot of my family supported.”

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He ended the interview with the remark:

“Once a Miller, always a Miller!”

Tonge came out the Barnsley youth set-up and made his debut in 2004 against Brentford. He currently plays for FC United of Manchester. A massive thanks to Dale for taking the time to speak to me!

A full feature on Rotherham United including more of Dale’s comments and supporter’s views will be on The Yorkshire Voice in the near future.

Follow me on Twitter: @GeorgeS_Sport

 

Lizzy Yarnold wins Team GB’s first Gold medal in the 2018 Winter Olympics

Lizzy Yarnold has successfully retained her golden status as she has won Team GB’s first gold medal in PyeongChang.

The 29 year-old who also clenched the gold medal at the Sochi Winter Olympic Games in 2014, is in fact the first ever British athlete to retain their golden title.

Yarnold set a fantastic track record on her final run which won her the medal. This was after heading in to the last run behind Austrian Janine Flock, by narrow margin of 0.02 seconds. Flock was visibly distraught after the event as a disappointing finish on her final run made sure she missed out on the medals in fourth place.

Yarnold’s teammate Laura Deas also finished 3rd in the event, ensuring that this is Team GB’s most successful day at these games so far.

Follow me on Twitter: @GeorgeS_Sport