This time twelve months ago, both Huddersfield Town and Rotherham United were beginning their Championship campaigns. One year later, the Yorkshire sides find themselves two leagues apart, with the Terriers looking into a bright future in the Premier League, whilst Rotherham looks to steady the sinking ship in League One.
It’s fair to say Town and The Millers were polar opposites in the second tier last season, as David Wagner’s men were enjoying life in the top 6 for the entire year whereas Rotherham sat rock bottom for the large majority of the campaign.
Tonight, the pair lock horns at the John Smiths’ in the battle for progression into the third round of the competition.
Town boss David Wagner admitted the idea of rotation was in his head for the midweek clash, which may mean the likes of Scott Malone, Laurent Depoitre, and Danny Williams could make their competitive debut for the Terriers.
The German who is now well known for his rotation and squad use means that a number of fringe players will have a chance to impress.
Wagner was full of praise for Joe Lolley in his pre-match press conference, as he has impressed in training and deserved his place in the squad on Sunday. The wide midfielder is another name Town fans can expect to be involved tonight.
Jordan Williams was another surprise name mentioned by Wagner who may also earn his place in the squad. The promising Academy graduate can play at both right-back and centre-back, so hopefully, the youngster can gain a taste of first team action this evening.
After falling at the first hurdle last season, Wagner told the press that he would like a much longer stint in the league cup this time round. This should come as no surprise to Town fans as many can remember the Germans’ passion and excitement for the FA Cup last season.
Town are looking to continue their perfect start to the season after their recent triumphs at Crystal Palace and Newcastle on Sunday. They certainly go into the tie as favourites against the Millers, who have only won one of their first three in League One.
Rotherham boss Paul Warne has also said he plans to make changes ahead of this evening, so it’s likely the Terriers will be facing a second string South Yorkshire side.
Here we examine the key battles that will shape the outcome of tonight’s game.
Laurent Depoitre vs Semi Ajayi
Tonight’s game against Rotherham will be a chance for some of the players on the fringes of the first team to impress and Laurent Depoitre will be no different.
After mysteriously being left out of the squad for the Newcastle game, Depoitre will hope to showcase the skillset that made David Wagner bring him to West Yorkshire.
Strong, deceptively mobile and excellent at bringing other players into the game, Depoitre will be hoping to get the better of young Rotherham centre-back Semi Ajayi.
Scott Malone vs Ryan Williams
Another new signing eager to impress will be Scott Malone.
The Championship Team of the Year left-back will be hoping he can impress David Wagner with his set-piece delivery, attacking threat and physical capabilities.
Chris Loewe has clearly seen the competition of Malone and raised his game to another level so far this season but Malone will have an opportunity to impress.
Malone will be hoping he can put on enough of a display to warrant a selection headache for Saturday’s game against Southampton. Tonight he will be coming up against Rotherham’s lively Australian U-23 international Ryan Williams.
Regan Booty vs Lee Frecklington
One of the academy products that Wagner mentioned in his pre-match press conference was midfielder Regan Booty.
If the youngster does get the opportunity, he will be keen to show that he is worthy of further appearances in the first-team squad this season.
This will be one of his only chances to impress the boss but he will be coming up against a seasoned football league professional and under-rated player in Lee Frecklington.
One that Town fans probably remember as a former Peterborough United player.
Rajiv van la Parra vs Joe Mattock
Rajiv van La Parra’s performance on Saturday was once again a topic of debate with some praising the extra work he put in on the flank whilst others still bemoaned his decision-making and a familiar trait of wanting to beat his man twice.
What can’t be denied is Rajiv’s willingness to improve and the extra game in mid-week will hopefully maintain the momentum he carried through pre-season.
However, he hasn’t quite lived up to the hype that people put upon him, rightly or wrongly but he will be hoping for a solid performance against Rajiv van la Parra to give his team a strong defensive foothold on the game.
Jordan Williams vs Ryan Williams
The ‘battle of the Williams’ as I’m affectionately dubbing this.
Whilst Town’s Williams, Jordan will most likely be having his first taste of senior first team football, there is no doubt about the talent and quality that he possesses.
The England U19 international has been patiently waiting for an opportunity and it appears that this season’s cup competitions could be his best bet.
As Town are still looking for right back cover (most likely coming in the shape of Florent Hadergjonaj), Jordan Williams has the opportunity to stake his claim and become a regular for Town.
Tonight will be no easy task for him as he is likely to come up against Rotherham United’s live wire and chief creator, Joe Newell.
With changes expected to be made, here is our predicted starting XI for tonight.
The last meeting between Town and Rotherham was back in February, as Town came from behind twice to level and a stunning last minute strike from captain Tommy Smith made it 3-2 to Town who stole all the points. The game reflected the pattern of the season, as Town didn’t give up and continued to push right until the end and claim their rewards, whilst Rotherham just couldn’t hang on to any advantage and silly individual mistakes cost them the all important points.
The game reflected the pattern of the season, as Town didn’t give up and continued to push right until the end and claim their rewards, whilst Rotherham just couldn’t hang on to any advantage and silly individual mistakes cost them the all important points.
- Rotherham have only won one of their last 18 against Town. Their solitary victory came at the John Smiths Stadium back in March 2015 when the Millers ran out 2-0 winners.
- Huddersfield did the double over Rotherham last season winning 2-1 at the John Smiths’ and 3-2 at the New York Stadium.
- The Millers have been defeated in both times on their travels this season, losing 2-0 at Fleetwood and 2-1 at Peterborough on Saturday.
The winners of the tie will be into tomorrow mornings’ third round draw which takes place in Beijing and will be underway 4:15 AM UK time.