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Thursday, 17 January, 2019

Attack-minded Rotherham and Scunthorpe should serve up a thriller

Defensive lapses could prove decisive

Duane Holmes of Scunthorpe challenges Northampton's Matt Crooks
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Sky Bet League One playoff semi-final second leg
Sky Sports Football & Main Event, 7.45pm Wednesday

There was so little to choose between Scunthorpe and Rotherham at Glanford Park on Saturday, is it worth betting much will change at the New York Stadium?

Rotherham twice led at the weekend and were twice pegged back by resilient hosts.

Scunny were arguably the better team in the first period, the Millers possibly took the honours in the second.

Basically, you’d struggle to slip a cigarette paper between two sides who finished fourth and fifth in Sky Bet League One and something tight is envisaged once again.

The prize of a trip to Wembley to take on Shrewsbury for the right to be playing Championship football next term is on the line and the bookies, naturally, prefer the Millers, who are odds-on to qualify.

Away goals don’t carry any extra weight in the playoffs but an away draw represents a decent outcome for Paul Warne’s lads, who are unbeaten in three against Scunthorpe this season.

Another draw is a 12-5 shot and the stalemate is certainly in keeping with the Iron’s profile – they’ve drawn nine of their last 15 and not one of them was 0-0.

Given that likelihood of goals the draw arguably becomes harder to justify, and the better bet might be both teams to score and over 2.5 goals – mirroring the first tie – at 31-20 with Coral.

Rotherham are mightily confident because they are so strong at home where they have lost only one of their last 13.

They play with pace and the surface at the New York Stadium suits their style.

They are, however, up against a Scunthorpe side who might just be happier away than at home. Nicky Daws’ men have had ten away wins in 2017-18 and gleaned more points on their travels – 39 – than at home – 35.

It’s easy to see why with the pace of Hakeem Adelakun, Josh Morris and Duane Holmes on the counter and they are lively.

Both these sides are flaky at the back, however. That much was obvious from the first leg where there were four goals, the woodwork hit, saves made and mistakes galore from edgy defenders.

The Millers have failed to score only once at home since Christmas; Scunthorpe have failed to score in just one game – home or away – since December 9.

Rotherham’s games this term average 2.75 goals per match, Scunny’s a fraction over 2.5.

These are two forward-looking teams who will look to get forward. Don’t be surprised if a moment of madness at the back rather than magic up front decides which one of these two is off to Wembley.

Both teams to score & over 2.5 goals
2pts 31-20 Coral

Bet on this match at

Team news

Joe Mattock, Michael Ihiekwe, Jon Taylor and Joe Newell are all being assessed. Striker Jamie Proctor and midfielder Darren Potter are in full training after long lay-offs.

Keeper Matt Gilks (knee) is a major doubt after limping off on Saturday. Sam Mantom, back from a loan spell, is unavailable.

Key stat
Scunthorpe have scored in each of their last 12 away matches.

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Away goals don’t carry any extra weight in the playoffs but an away draw represents a decent outcome for Paul Warne’s lads
E.W. Terms
Sky bet