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Thursday, March 03, 2011

Big Match Preview - Rotherham vs. Barnet

Rotherham United vs. Barnet
Saturday March 5, 15:00, Don Valley Stadium

Two sides with differing attitudes towards remaining in League Two next year meet in South Yorkshire this weekend as Rotherham United play host to Barnet.

The visitors come into the game with their place in the Football League under serious threat while the Millers are hoping to make up for play off final disappointment last season by winning promotion this.

In short, it's been a disastrous season for Barnet, with the London outfit coming into the game sitting in the bottom two and a couple of points behind a Burton side who have five games in hand on them.

The appointment of former Gillingham boss Mark Stimson during the summer proved an unmitigated disaster with the Bees collecting just 19 points from his 22 games at the helm.

His sacking on New Year's Day saw the man in charge of the club's youth development, Paul Fairclough, return to his post as manager on a temporary basis.

The Bees have enjoyed a slight upturn in fortunes under his stead, collecting two wins, five draws, and four defeats from his 11 matches in charge. However, it's more three point hauls they require to survive.

Fortunately, one of those victories was a 3-1 success at Bradford, their only win from 16 matches on the road. Last weekend's beating of Lincoln was their first victory in nine matches however.

With a strike force containing Izale McLeod and Steve Kabba though, both of whom have seven goals to their name this term, Barnet have the necessary firepower to cause any League Two defence problems.

The experienced Paul Fairclough has a fight for survival on his hands at Barnet

Opponents Rotherham are flying high at the top end of the division - currently sitting 4th in the standings after Tuesday's evening 1-1 against Torquay.

Their form at their temporary home of the Don Valley Stadium has been sound too, with just two losses being incurred at the hands of Wycombe and Southend.

Nine team have been seen off to collect maximum spoils though. Barnet will hope not to go the same way as Lincoln, Cheltenham, Chesterfield, Oxford, Aldershot, Port Vale, Stockport, Accrington, and Crewe before them.

Given too many stalemates on home soil cost them a place in the top three last term, boss Ronnie Moore will be keen to ensure there is no repeat this time around with no slips up in a game they should win.

Without question the man who Moore will be looking to to elevate United into the third tier is top scorer Adam Le Fondre. The Millers marksmen has already got 21 goals this term and is their key goal threat.

Striker Ryan Taylor has also enjoyed a profitable campaign in front of goal with nine strikes, and midfielder Marcus Marshall has also been a creative threat for Rotherham.

It almost seems too obvious given the two sides' respective league positions, as well as Rotherham's strong home form and Barnet's travel sickness, to go for a Millers victory.

However, I'm nothing if not predictable, so without sticking my neck out much at all, this is a game Rotherham really should be winning if they're serious about promotion.

Nobes' Prediction: Rotherham United 2 Barnet 1

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