A buoyant Southend United side travel to Rotherham United this weekend on the back of an impressive 2-1 victory over former Championship side, Blackburn Rovers in League One.
Meanwhile the Shrimper’s opponents Rotherham, who were also relegated from the Championship last season, faced a baptism of fire on their return to League One. They lost 2-0 away to Fleetwood on the opening day.
The South Yorkshire side actually had a fair amount of the possession, and indeed imposed a significant amount of pressure onto Fleetwood, but Paul Warne’s side lacked the final product. Two goals from Fleetwood’s new signing Conor McAleny (who joined the club from Everton) sealed Rotherham’s fate.Embed from Getty Images
This is unlike Phil Brown’s Southend, who had little trouble rekindling their impressive form from last season. Goals from Ryan Leonard and new signing Michael Kightly put the Blues 2-0 up, before what would turn out to be just a consolation goal for Blackburn, from a free-kick by Charlie Mulgrew.
Ones to watch in this fixture:
Jon Taylor – Rotherham United
The 25 year-old signed for the Millers from Peterborough in 2016 and instantly impressed Rotherham fans with his pace and work-rate. The winger also boasts a powerful shot and despite being in a belated, rock-bottom Millers side, he managed to score goals against Nottingham Forest, Birmingham and Blackburn last season.
Anthony Wordsworth – Southend United
Rotherham United fans will recognise midfielder Anthony Wordsworth from his time on loan with themselves and may remember his only goal during his time at the club – a fantastic free-kick against Bolton Wanderers in September 2014. The Camden born player played a key role in Southend’s impressive campaign last season, scoring 12 goals in the process. It has also emerged that Wordsworth played despite the influence of injury.Embed from Getty Images
In the dugout:
Paul Warne – Rotherham United
Many critics have slammed Rotherham United manager Paul Warne ahead of this season, but if the club’s fantastic pre-season, and the squad he has assembled is anything to go by, he could well prove them wrong. The club’s former fitness manager assumed the role as permanent manager after managing The Millers in the latter stages of last season’s Championship relegation, which at first appeared to be temporary.Embed from Getty Images
Phil Brown – Southend United
Experienced manager Phil Brown took his Southend United side to an impressive 7th place finish in League One last year, just one point behind Millwall in the final play-off spot. Brown’s Blues side clearly have a significant amount of tactical finesse as they clenched ‘shock’ results last season too, such as a 3-0 victory over Sheffield United at Bramall Lane and a 3-0 victory over Bradford.
The last time they met at Rotherham:
The last game between the two teams at Rotherham’s AESSEAL New York Stadium saw Steve Evan’s Millers side lose 3-0. A brace from Britt Assombalonga and a goal from Dave Martin left Evan’s promotion seeking side looking red faced at the full-time whistle. In fact, Rotherham have not had a victory over The Shrimpers on home soil since 1980.Embed from Getty Images
With the plethora of attacking talent, both in midfield and upfront that both teams possess, I can see this game having goals in it. That said, I feel like the squads are fairly evenly balanced but I predict a 3-2 win for Rotherham, the recent cup games playing a fair role in my decision, even with different line-ups.
Paul Warne should narrowly clench his first win managing Rotherham in League One, and they will build on the positive signs from last weekend’s defeat to Fleetwood and their recent 2-1 victory over Lincoln in the Carabao Cup. Southend will have to pick themselves up following their 2-0 loss to Newport in the Carabao Cup and the impressive link-up play between Rotherham’s strikers may be enough to send them back to Essex with no points.
Follow me on Twitter: @GeorgeS_Sport