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Match Preview: Sunderland & Rotherham are gunning for promotion - who comes out on top tonight?

Sunderland and Rotherham are both hoping they’ll gain promotion come the end of the season, but who will come out on top tonight?

Accrington Stanley v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Sunderland return to the Stadium of Light this evening as they welcome Rotherham United. The Black Cats survived a scare at Accrington Stanley on Saturday before strolling to a 3-1 win. Despite the perceived ease at which the Lads got the victory in Lancashire, there have been murmurings of discontent that the scoreline could’ve been more emphatic.

It is something that clearly irked Jack Ross in his pre-match press conference and the Scot will want to rack up another win to shut the dissenters up for another week. They face a Rotherham side that will be full of confidence after a 6-1 mauling of Bolton Wanderers.


Jack Ross Says...

On accusations of a ‘good result but a poor performance’ at Accrington:

One defeat in nine this season, six wins in the last seven, that’s rubbish.

It’s tiresome and it’s part of the problem at this club. We win 3-1 away from home, and always want to improve on what we do, I just fail to see sometimes what will make people satisfied.

To continue to be critical of any sort of performance and result is negative and is almost like an anchor stopping the club moving forward.

So I take issue with it. I sit here often enough, and I’m polite and pleasant and I’m courteous. But we’ve won a game 3-1 away from home in the league and that should be it.

If you win football matches it’s how you win leagues and win promotion.

It’s an absolute fallacy to believe a team that wins promotion or a league title plays good every weekend.

On Rotherham:

Like anybody coming down, there’s usually that little period of adjustment, and we’ve seen that with the results which have been mixed so far.

But they’ve had some good performances and results mixed in with that as well and after winning on Saturday they come into this fixture in the best possible frame of mind.

They have a lot of players who played in the Championship and they’ve added to the squad really well. They have a good energy about their team and we know we’re going to have to play well tomorrow.

Accrington Stanley v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Team News

Charlie Wyke returns after serving a one-game suspension after getting his marching orders in the calamitous defeat to Peterborough United. Wyke had been Ross’ preferred option to lead the line but following the excellent attacking link-up play between Marc McNulty, Chris Maguire and Lynden Gooch at Accrington, the big man may have to settle for a spot on the bench.

Ross confirmed that Duncan Watmore remains out while the Rotherham game may come a little early for new signings Joel Lynch and Laurens De Bock. The pair featured for the Under-23s against Middlesbrough on Monday night.

Rochdale v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

View from the opposition

Rotherham have made a somewhat indifferent start to life back in League One. The Millers currently lie in 13th after defeats to Lincoln City and Doncaster Rovers, however they got back on track in style on Saturday with a 6-1 walloping of a new-look Bolton side.

New signings Freddie Ladapo and Rangers loanee Jake Hastie have impressed for Paul Warne’s side. The pair have six goals between them and Ladapo was reportedly a transfer target for Sunderland in the summer. The Millers haven’t won on Wearside since 1959, a run they will be keen to end on Tuesday.

Rotherham United v Bolton Wanderers - Sky Bet League One Photo by Andrew Kearns - CameraSport via Getty Images

Match stats

Venue: Stadium of Light, Sunderland
Kick-off: 7.45pm
Referee: Ben Toner
Last season position: 22nd (Championship)

Last 5 results:

SAFC

(L1) Accrington Stanley (A) 3-1
(L1) Peterborough United (A) 0-3
(LC) Burnley (A) 3-1
(L1) AFC Wimbledon (H) 3-1
(L1) Rochdale (A) 2-1

RUFC

(L1) Bolton Wanderers (H) 6-1
(L1) Doncaster Rovers (A) 1-2
(L1) Tranmere Rovers (H) 1-1
(LC) Sheffield Wednesday (H) 0-1
(L1) Burton Albion (A) 1-0

The Millers on Wearside

22 Feb 2005 (CH) Sunderland 4-1 Rotherham United (Whitehead, Thornton 2, Breen)
21 Oct 2003 (D1) Sunderland 0-0 Rotherham United
20 Dec 1987 (D3) Sunderland 3-0 Rotherham United (Gates 3)
24 Nov 1987 (SVT) Sunderland 7-1 Rotherham United (Corner, Burley, Lemon, Owers, Bertschin 2, Moore)
18 Jan 1982 (FAC) Sunderland 1-0 Rotherham United (Buckley)

Top goalscorers (in all competitions)

4 - Freddie Ladapo
2 - Jake Hastie
2 - Carlton Morris
2 - Ben Wiles
1 - Matt Crooks

Rotherham United v Sunderland - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Last Time We Met

When the Millers travelled up to a snow-covered Wearside on a freezing Tuesday in late-February of 2005, little did they know they were about to be hit by another force of nature. The bleach blonde locks of Sean Thornton guided Sunderland to a crushing 4-1 victory as Mick McCarthy’s men made a beeline for automatic promotion.

The Lads were helped immeasurably by Rotherham’s goalkeeper Mike Pollitt who let not one, but two tame headers squirm through his grasp. However, it was the mercurial Thornton that would be the star with a brace of sensational free-kicks to leave everyone looking back and thinking “what a talent he could’ve been”.

Sunderland v Crystal Palace Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images