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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Big Match Preview

League Two
Rotherham United vs. Torquay United
Friday February 19, 19:45, Don Valley Stadium

Two basement division sides will be hoping for precious points for very different reasons on Friday evening as Rotherham take on Torquay at the Don Valley Stadium.

The home side, currently sitting in 4th, are hoping to close the gap on the three sides in League Two's automatic promotion places. For their opponents though, its league survival that's on their mind.

The Gulls, promoted via the Conference play-offs last May, have struggled on their return to the big time and currently lie just five points off the relegation places.

It's been a difficult transition to oversee for their young boss, Paul Buckle, who has enjoyed great success at Plainmoor since taking charge in 2007.

And the Devon club are on a poor run of late - without a win since Boxing Day and having lost their last three home games.

However, in a strange twist, the club decided to allow experienced campaigners Chris Hargreaves and Tim Sills - both instrumental in last season's promotion - to leave the club during the January transfer window.

United also missed out on the signing of Crawley's hotshot striker Charles Ademano but were able to add Wycombe's Chris Zebroski to bolster their attacking options.

Zebroski, with five goals, is one of Torquay's biggest threats going forwards.

Along with Scott Rendell and Elliot Benyon - seven and six league goals to their names respectively - he will be expected to find the goals needed for survival over the next few weeks.

Torquay United boss Paul Buckle has a relegation battle on his hands

They might be in for a tough test on Friday evening in South Yorkshire though as they face a Rotherham side with one of the strongest home records in the division.

The Millers have suffered defeat on home soil just twice this term - however, both of those losses have been suffered in their last four games in their temporary home.

The fact one of those surprisingly occurred against rock-bottom Darlington means Ronnie Moore's high flyers will have to be cautious not to underestimate another lowly opponent.

Moore, in his second spell at the club, took over from Mark Robins in the autumn has kept Rotherham in contention for the top three - and the side have two games in hand on 3rd placed Bury.

The leading light in the home side's team is striker Adam Le Fondre - a signing from promotion rivals Rochdale - the young forward has found the back of the net 19 times in League Two this term.

That includes three goals in his side's last two games - wins against Lincoln and Dagenham - so the Millers come into the game with confidence and back in good form.

Considering the two sides contrasting form, Rotherham will be firm favourites to boost their promotion hopes and deepen Torquay's woes with another win.

And although surprises can happen, their Darlington-debacle means it's hard to see the home side taking the Gulls lightly.

Nobes' Prediction: Rotherham United 2 Torquay United 1

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