Rotherham v Coventry
Thursday April 15, 19:00
Rotherham renew survival belief
'We're ready for Thursday' was the rallying cry from Rotherham manager Paul Warne after seeing his Millers side come from behind to beat QPR 3-1 at the New York Stadium on Tuesday night and boost their prospects of Championship survival. Freddie Ladapo's second-half brace and Michael Smith's late goal was enough to secure a vital three points.
The third-bottom Reds have now kicked off a run of four home matches in eight days, but victory has moved Rotherham to just three points of safety and Thursday night's visitors Coventry. The Millers now know another win here would see the South Yorkshire side move out of the second-tier relegation zone for the first time since 20 February.
Lewis Wing is pushing for a recall after making an impact off the bench against QPR, whilst Ladapo had to be subbed off with nine minutes to go with what appeared to be a groin injury, which could put his participation in doubt. Smith, scorer of the third goal, will likely come straight back into the starting XI if Ladapo does miss out on against the Sky Blues.
Coventry prepare for six cup finals
Coventry boss Mark Robins issued a rallying cry to his Sky Blues troops at the weekend, warning that if any of his players are not up for Thursday night's crunch fixture, he'll happily pick someone else. The City boss was keen to move on quickly from the 4-1 thrashing at Bournemouth on Saturday, a result that's seen Cov slide into immediate relegation danger.
Following a run of five defeats in eight games, Robins has described Coventry's run-in as six "cup finals" and said, "I want the players to move on from it (Bournemouth) but I do want them to learn from things and be in a positive frame of mind for the last six. This is football. If you're frightened, tell me that it's not for you and I'll pick someone else."
The Sky Blues suffered another injury blow at the weekend when Josh Pask was stretchered off. Fellow centre-half Kyle McFadzean received treatment on the pitch, although was able to carry on playing. Both Dom Hyam and Michael Rose sat out the game, due to illness and injury, leaving the visitors extremely short on central defensive cover coming into this clash.
Rotherham and Coventry have been regular opponents since the turn of the century with previous meetings well-matched between the pair. The Sky Blues hold a slight W5-D4-L4 advantage in league encounters, with the Millers enjoying a W3-D1-L2 return when the two teams have faced off in South Yorkshire. Cov triumphed 3-1 at St Andrew's in December.
Rotherham 2.6213/8 have remained competitive in 2020/21. Despite losing over half (21) of their 38 fixtures, Paul Warne's underdogs have only been beaten by a two goals or more on seven occasions. The Millers have also returned an impressive W11-D5-L7 in 23 encounters with teams outside the current top-nine, including W5-D2-L3 as Championship hosts.
Coventry 3.002/1 have claimed top honours on only 10 occasions since promotion and the Sky Blues are enduring an inconsistent run, posting W5-D6-L11 since mid-December. Mark Robins' men have proven particularly poor on their travels this tem (W2-D5-L13), although can boast a W4-D5-L1 return when taking on fellow bottom-seven scrappers this season.
Traditionally, six-pointers in this sort of scenario tend to be tight, attritional and low-scoring affairs and so it's no surprise to see Under 2.5 Goals trading at 1.768/11. Under 2.5 Goals has been the right wager in 13/19 (68%) of the duo's combined contests with bottom-seven outfits as at least one of the struggling sides failed to score in 12 of those fixtures.
With that in mind, plus the magnitude of the match, I'm willing to follow those trends and support Under 2.5 Goals. A chunky 60% of Championship games in 2020/21 have featured a maximum of two strikes with matches averaging only 2.26 goals per-game, with teams at the bottom end of the table playing a leading role in those below average goal returns.