So another long season comes to an end. We’re just one game away from completing the 2011/12 season that has brought us anger, strife, Gary Johnson, revival, nerves and finally relief and we go to Rotherham tomorrow to play our part in what will be (thankfully for home and away fans alike) their final game at the Don Valley Stadium.
The Millers plan to move to the shiny new 12,500 capacity New York Stadium in time for the start of next season and they will be hoping to round off their tenure in Sheffield in style even if it is too late to mount a playoff charge.
For the Cobblers it’s a final chance this season to put one over on Steve Evans who took charge of Rotherham a month ago but has failed to spark their fire enough to steer them into the top seven so not too much to play for apart from final league standings for both clubs. The highest that the Cobblers can now finish is 18th while Rotherham can end up in eighth if all goes their way.
Since Evans took over, Rotherham have won two home game, against Cheltenham and Morecambe but were beaten by Shrewsbury and held at Aldershot on their travels. Last weekend’s draw at the EBB Stadium left them with no chance of reaching the playoffs but they should be strong again next season.
The Cobblers are without a win in five having drawn the last two at Hereford and at home to Gillingham in last weekend’s final home game of the season.
Rotherham defender Ryan Cresswell will return after serving a one game suspension last weekend. But Tom Newey serves his one match ban after his sending off against Aldershot and Lewis Grabban faces a late fitness test.
There shouldn’t be too many changes for the Cobblers but there will be final games, for now at least, for loanees Clarke Carlisle, Brett Williams, Toni Silva and Blair Adams. Michael Jacobs will play his 100th, and potentially last, game for the club with the midfielder still undecided on his future.
Brett Williams has played for both clubs this season having turned out eleven times for Rotherham and scoring twice earlier in the campaign.
Last Six Meetings…
29/10/11: Cobblers 1-1 Rotherham
Gary Johnson’s final home game in charge of the Cobblers saw Gareth Evan’s second minute strike cancelled out by a Conrad Logan own goal mid-way through the first half.
22/04/11: Cobblers 2-2 Rotherham
The infamous celebrations that followed a Cobblers recovery from 2-0 down on Good Friday last season has been etched into memory more than the game itself. After Leon McKenzie and Liam Davis had cancelled out a Paul Rodgers own goal and a Ryan Taylor effort, Cobblers fan Derry Felton invaded the pitch in his wheelchair to create a moment of humour in last season’s relegation battle!
23/11/10: Rotherham 2-2 Cobblers
The Cobblers had already come back from two down against Rotherham earlier in the season as well. Having gone behind to Ryan Taylor and Marcus Marshall goals, Abdul Osman and Andy Holt replied within minutes and the half-time score of 2-2 remained until the end.
13/04/10: Rotherham 1-0 Cobblers
Red cards everywhere in this one as Adam Le Fondre’s goal settled a promotion battle at the Don Valley Stadium. Ryan Gilligan had already missed a penalty when Craig Hinton conceded a spot kick of our own that Le Fondre scored from and Hinton was shown his marching orders for the challenge. Luke Guttridge and Danny Harrison were also sent off later in the game meaning that we ended with nine men and Rotherham finished with ten.
29/09/09: Cobblers 3-1 Rotherham
Ryan Gilligan and Courtney Herbert had the Cobblers in control in this Tuesday night encounter before Ian Sharps’ own goal made it 3-0. Adam Le Fondre’s penalty was only a consolation on this occasion.
24/02/07: Cobblers 3-0 Rotherham
The Good Doctor opened the scoring before Mark Hughes and Ian Taylor made the game safe even before the half time whistle had gone.
The Man In The Middle…
The final referee to take charge of a Cobblers game this season is Carl Boyeson who was the referee for our 4-0 home defeat by Wolves in this season’s Carling Cup.
Anything can happen on the last day and sometimes you get funny results when both sides are playing for pride alone. So I’ll round off this season with a 3-3 thriller of a prediction!