FOOTBALL LEAGUE boff Gabriel Sutton (@_FootbalLab) runs the rule over the League One play-off semi-final second leg between Rotherham and Scunthorpe on Wednesday.
Rotherham v Scunthorpe | Wednesday 16th May 2018, 19:45 | Sky Sports
Rotherham United will have mixed feelings about their first leg 2-2 draw at Glanford Park; pride in the performance and a tinge of regret.
For spells they carried a real threat going forward with wide men Ryan Williams and Jon Taylor, as well as substitute Joe Newell, who scored a well-struck goal to put them in front for the second time.
At that point, Scunthorpe had an inexperienced goalkeeper in Rory Watson, who had conceded two minutes after being forced on to replace the injured Matt Gilks and was yet to keep a clean sheet in the EFL; it could have been an opportunity for Rotherham to test the understudy further.
Instead, Paul Warne took off midfielder Richie Towell, arguably the Millers’ best player and put on Semi Ajayi, a centre-back by trade to occupy the holding role.
That defensive change, combined with the introduction of Cameron McGeehan for the hosts, meant Rotherham invited a little more pressure than they needed to and thus conceded a soft equalizer.
While this was not a bad start to the tie for Rotherham, they must play to their attacking strengths more in the return leg.
History still favours the South Yorkshire outfit: seven of the last eight teams to draw an away first leg of a League One play-off semi-final have gone on to reach the final. The one side who didn’t, ironically, was Scunthorpe last year.
Scunthorpe to score?
The Iron can take solace from the fact they have not lost any of their last eight away matches and remain unbeaten in Nick Daws’ tutelage.
Daws, a former Rotherham teammate of Warne, will wait until Wednesday to assess Gilks’ fitness, which could have a big say in their chances.
Another key factor will be the performances of Duane Holmes and Hakeeb Adelakun, who rotate and combine seamlessly down the right channel, as we saw on Saturday.
Athletic front man Ivan Toney has scored eight goals in his last 14 appearances and has not endured a two-game goal drought since January; given that the athletic front man came very close to grabbing a tap-in in the first leg, there is reason to think he and Scunthorpe have potential to threaten.
The betting angle
The last six League One play-off semi-final second legs have seen a combined total of 24 goals, an average of four per game, with none requiring extra-time.
For that reason, we’re going for a high-scoring encounter; Unibet’s whopping 19/1 on Over 5.5 goals might worth a look for the more daring punters, but we’ll take the slightly more conservative option of 888sport’s 56/19 on Over 3.5 goals.
If the previous clash bucked the trend of first legs being cagey encounters, then the second leg could be a goal-fest.