Rotherham United travel to St Andrew’s to face Birmingham City this Saturday in the Sky Bet Championship.
The Millers go into this game hoping to win their second away game of the season, after beating Wycombe on the opening day. If Paul Warne’s side wins here, they will surpass their number of victories collected from both of their last two Championship campaigns.
Last time out, Rotherham fell to a 1-0 defeat to Millwall at the New York Stadium. The home side played well in the first half, but a Jed Wallace second-half goal separated the sides. The goal came thanks to a rare mistake from last season’s player of the year, Michael Ihiekwe.
It was still a positive performance against one of the league’s stronger sides, so Rotherham should not be too downhearted at the defeat.
Birmingham meanwhile has made a really promising start to the season. In their opening game, they beat this season’s promotion favourites – Brentford – 1-0 at home.
They followed that up with a 0-0 draw away at Swansea City, which was another solid result for Aitor Karanka’s side. He took over as Birmingham’s new boss in July and they have had a busy summer on the transfer front.
Scott Hogan, Neil Etheridge, Adam Clayton, George Friend and Jonathan Leko are just a few of their impressive signings this window.
Birmingham should be a safe mid-table outfit this season. Following on from last week, this is another test for the Millers. But there is no reason for Warne’s side to fear Birmingham.
Barring the mistake last week, Rotherham have looked really solid so far. It should make for a really competitive game, as you cannot imagine much will separate the sides on Saturday…
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— Rotherham United (@OfficialRUFC) September 25, 2020
Birmingham have a much better record than Rotherham in past outings. This Saturday’s hosts are unbeaten against the Millers in five games dating back to September 2015.
Rotherham’s last win came at St Andrew’s at the start of the 2015/16 Championship season. It proved to be Steve Evans’ last game as boss. He went out on a high as goals in either half from Matt Derbyshire and Tony Andreu earned the Millers a 2-0 victory.
The two sides last met at St Andrew’s in October 2018. Birmingham forward Lukas Jutkiewicz shone that day, scoring a hat-trick as the home side won 3-1, with Jon Taylor scoring a consolation late on.
It is mixed news on the injury front for the Millers. Richard Wood is fully fit after struggling with a bad back. But Clark Robertson remains unavailable as a result of an injured quad.
Curtis Tilt has returned to full training after his hip operation, but he is not fit enough to take part yet. It should still be a couple of weeks before we see the former Blackpool man in a Rotherham matchday squad.
Left-back Trevor Clarke is also out after suffering a setback to his calf injury that ruled him out for the start of the season. The 22-year-old picked up the injury on international duty with the Republic of Ireland U21’s at the start of September.
Birmingham vs Rotherham should be a tight game, just like each of the two side’s games this campaign.
Karanka’s side made a superb start via a win at home to Brentford. With them being at home again, they will be keen to carry on the momentum from their first game.
It was vital for Rotherham that they won their first home game of the season, though. This immediately ended talk of Warne’s sides struggles for away Championship victories.
Birmingham will make sure Rotherham have a difficult game on Saturday, however. Jutkiewicz seems to always cause the Millers problems, so it is important for Rotherham’s defenders that they keep him quiet.
Both sides should be relatively confident going into this game, and each of them should be looking for a valuable victory.
This should be the type of game where just one goal, if anything, separates the sides. It could go either way, but we will go for Rotherham to win away again, this time 2-1 with goals from Kieran Sadlier and Kyle Vassell…