down cross

Scunthorpe youngster can give Iron edge over Rotherham

Back Ivan Toney to strike first

Ivan Toney has been in fine form for Scunthorpe
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Sky Bet League One playoff semi-final first leg
Sky Sports Football & Main Event, 12.30pm Saturday

Former Millmoor teammates Nicky Daws and Paul Warne get an opportunity to demonstrate their promise at Glanford Park as old rivals Scunthorpe and Rotherham trade blows in what looks a tight affair.

Two of the brighter bosses in Sky Bet League One and Rotherham teammates back in the early 2000s, Daws and Warne now want to turn potential into promotion and it’s a tough semi-final to call.

Warne has transformed Rotherham from the rabble who plunged out of the Championship last season.

The Millers’ chief oversaw a wholesale clearout and has relied on youth and flexible tactics to get his new-look team into the top six.

Scunthorpe, beaten at this stage 12 months ago, were limping into the playoffs under Graham Alexander so owner Peter Swann took a massive punt, sacked his boss and promoted Daws. Eight unbeaten matches later, they have the look of a side ready to make it to Wembley.

It’s hard to envisage either team stealing a decisive edge going to the New York Stadium for the return, and even Rotherham fans (though not winger Ryan Williams) are trying to downplay the fact that their team won both league fixtures between the two.

Williams reckons those successes merely confirm that the Yorkshiremen are the better side, a bit of macho nonsense that will doubtless crop up in the team talk in the home changing room before kick-off.

Scunny are outstanding defensively – note clean sheets in wins against Charlton and Plymouth in the last few weeks – and they will be tested by a Rotherham side who play on the front foot.

Chances will come and Scunthorpe have the most in-form goal-getter on show in Ivan Toney.

The Newcastle youngster has bagged eight in 13 since returning to Glanford Park in the January transfer window and he gives the impression he could still make it at a higher level.

It’s 5-2 there are exactly two goals, which has occurred in a league-high 17 Scunthorpe matches this season.

I Toney first scorer
1pt 6-1 bet365

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Team news
Sam Mantom has returned from a loan spell at Southend but is ineligible. Nicky Daws has a fully-fit squad.

Joe Newell has recovered from a knock. Striker Jamie Proctor and midfielder Darren Potter are in full training after long layoffs.

Key stat
Scunthorpe’s last eight matches have produced either one or two goals

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Rotherham under Warne have been transformed from the rabble who plunged out of the Championship last season
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