Alan Dudman returns for Wednesday's second-leg League One playoff semi-final between Rotherham and Scunthorpe and he's backing the hosts to come out on top....
" With 15 victories at the New York, that was equal to Shrewsbury and Blackburn, and this was the game I wanted to back the hosts in."
Rotherham United v Scunthorpe United
Wednesday 16th May, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports
Fast and furious first-leg
Following a breathless 90 minutes 2-2 at Glanford Park on Saturday, Rotherham and Scunthorpe go again with a place in the Wembley final at stake against Shrewsbury. Both Paul Warne and Nick Daws seemed fairly happy with the draw, and the game was far more entertaining than Shrewsbury's against Charlton - although it's fair to say Paul Hurst's side "done a number" on the Londoners.
Shrewsbury trade at [2.08] in the Promotion market, with Rotherham at [2.96] and Scunthorpe at [5.10].
Wednesday night is likely to be a sell-out, and the New York will be bouncing according to the local paper. Game on.
Hosts can be confident with superb home record
The Millers are looking to reach the third tier playoff final for the second time, and they have history on their side. They have never lost a playoff final second-leg (W2 D2) - and they have only lost one of their nine semi-final encounters.
I also outlined in my first-leg preview the strength of Rotherham's home form. With 15 victories at the New York, that was equal to Shrewsbury and Blackburn and this was the game I wanted to back the hosts in.
The Yorkshire club will feel they have done the first part of their job successfully. Yes, they conceded a late equaliser on Saturday, but Warne admitted afterwards he would have taken that result beforehand.
The Rotherham boss also showed a bit of class post-match by calling Scunthorpe a great side and praised how well their opponents played. No mistakes like Lee Bowyer.
Millers' forward Michael Smith was excellent in the 4-1-4-1 on Saturday. His target-man routine for the side really gives the two opposing centre-backs plenty of problems, and that allowed other players to get into the game. Holding midfelder Will Vaulks was excellent too, and Warne certainly has the big-time players for the occasion.
Counter-attacking Iron still dangerous
With history on Rotherham's side as mentioned previously, the footballing scrolls are not so kind to the Iron. They have failed to win any of their eight playoff semi-final matches away (D3 L5), and they have failed to score in three of their last four.
However, since Nick Daws took charge, Scunny are unbeaten in nine matches - with four wins and five draws. The feeling is that the Iron are suited to playing away and are decent on the counter-attack
In short; they are a better team on their travels. The stats back that up; they won ten on the road during the regular campaign - and that was more than their home tally of nine.
The Lincolnshire club played in their 4-4-1-1 on Saturday, although lone forward Ivan Toney was far too isolated up front. Midfielder Josh Morris also had a quiet one, and those two are big players for Daws. Toney's hold-up play wasn't as good as it should have been - and the ball kept going back to the Iron's defence too quickly.
Sticking with the Millers
I know I keep harping on about that Charlton price of [2.12] from last week, but it highlights the bad value on name and name only. Rotherham won four more games than Charlton at home yet are a bigger figure for Wednesday night at [2.22].
I must admit, I was hoping for something akin to the Shrewsbury price of [2.40]. But it's more than fair considering the Yorkshire side have lost only two of their last 17 matches at the New York in all competitions against Scunthorpe.
The visitors at [3.60] are no back numbers, and that looks attractive - and will certainly pull a few in for the Draw No Bet. Daws knows his team are very quick on the counter-attack and looked very dangerous on the break for much of the game at the weekend.
They have played some of their best football this season away from home - so those odds are appealing. And early goal for the away side of course presents a superb instant in-play trade.
However, Daws would have been disappointed with his defenders from the first-leg, as their backline had conceded just two in four away games prior to last Saturday - so those rare defensive errors would have hurt. And they were most unlike Scunthorpe.
Dull stalemate unlikely
I pretty much nailed my betting thoughts to the mast in my first preview for this by saying the time to back Rotherham will be in the return leg; but I would also consider the BTTS strongly.
Both looked very dangerous going forward, which dented my first preview predicting a low-scoring affair. Scunthorpe broke very quickly and it was easy to see why they have had plenty of success against some of the bigger sides in League One.
On the other side, Rotherham beat Scunthorpe twice in the regular season and scored two goals in both of the games; winning 2-0 at the New York and 1-2 at Glanford Park.
So we should have a bit of confidence in the hosts scoring, especially given their record of netting in 21 of their 23 home matches this term. Surprisingly one of their blanks was against Rochdale and that wily old fox Keith Hill.
On the BTTS bet, Scunthorpe were very poor in the early part of the season hitting that target, but in their last 12 matches, backers of the bet would have been successful on ten occasions.
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Matt Gilks fell awkwardly when launching a throw on Saturday and he is doubtful. His influence is huge on the team as the vice-captain and experience is crucial in these big games. Back-up shot-stopper Rory Watson is very green and has made a few mistakes this season. Scunny need Gilks fit.
Millers' winger Jon Taylor needs to shake off a dead leg, whilst there were reported bumps and bruises with a trio of players according to Paul Warne, but those are to be expected.
Back Rotherham United to win @ [2.20]
Back Both Teams To Score 'Yes' @ [1.85]