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Gaffer on a Sunday

6 April 2014

Steve Evans talks to www.themillers.co.uk...

Steve Evans arrived at the Millers training headquarters this morning and offered the highest praise to his Rotherham United squad after yesterday's dramatic win at Gillingham. We also previewed Tuesday night's visit to near neighbours Sheffield United as well as a number of key questions in his weekly Gaffer on a Sunday feature.

What are your reflective thoughts this morning after yesterday’s superb late win at Gillingham?

I have now watched the full match back on DVD but I did not need to do that to tell me this match had everything. There was much to be pleased about, some things we were not happy with and of course we got the three points, that is clearly what our overall performance thoroughly deserved.

We got the perfect start with a 13 seconds goal from Kieran Agard, yes 13 seconds! We took total command and should have been several goals further in front and just how we are not awarded a penalty after a foul on Lee Frecklington was surprising. The match referee did say at half-time that a few seconds after not pointing for a spot-kick he had got that decision wrong. I respected his honesty; we all make mistakes so we moved on.

The three goals we gave away are all individual errors and that is not like us these days but the two players concerned will learn from those mistakes, those guys are the right type. We must also learn to kill teams off when we are as dominant as we were in that first 30 minutes yesterday. In summary we caused our own problems, a lot of the damage to us was self-inflicted but as a team, we rallied and fought our way to victory.

Young Tom Hitchcock got himself a hat-trick but believe me the quality of his finishing does not surprise me one little bit. He was a little out of sorts for a few weeks but we had a little chat 10 days ago and I took him through what he had to do better to get back in the team. He listened and from that moment on he has looked very sharp in training and of course in our reserve match last Monday where he bagged two good goals. I took the strikers for a finishing session on Friday morning and he never missed, I knew then he would play a part at Gillingham and what a part he played.

Young Tom has gone home with the match ball and with a big smile. His Mum was in the crowd and I know what she means to him, she will also be extremely proud. I have to say whilst his finishing was superb he got great service from a team who will just never give up; never!

Lee Frecklington came off yesterday late in the match, how is he and the injuries in general?

We will know more about Lee tomorrow morning but we are hopeful it was cramp, early indications are that is a possibility and if so there is no issue.

With the exception of Mark Bradley, all the other players are in a great place, fit and ready to play. We have two big matches in three days coming up but we have a squad of players to cope with those challenges, in fact the lads are looking forward to it.

On Tuesday evening we travel the short journey to face Sheffield United, another terrific game in prospect?

Whilst it is just now another game for Rotherham United, no more or less important than any other we play in League One, we all know for both sets of supporters it is more special.

Everyone inside the Millers has the greatest respect for Sheffield United. A real friend is there when you need them and not just when the good times are with you and no one here will ever forget the Blades support almost a decade ago when this football club did not have Tony Stewart.

I personally see the Blades as a huge club in League One and at the start of the season they were tipped by everyone for promotion, rightfully so in my eyes. Nigel Clough and his staff have done a brilliant job, his players old and new have responded superbly and that is why they will start big favourites to beat us on Tuesday but it is not always the favourites that win.

Much will be made that they have an FA Cup semi-final next weekend. First they deserve enormous respect and as many congratulations for that achievement, they all deserve to be very proud but at the same time when the first whistle is blown to start our match we will be in the trenches to fight for any points we can add to our tally.

I would expect United to make a few changes to the team from Saturday but then again so will we. I have players chomping at the bit to play and I have to utilise the squad I have with so many matches coming in a short space of time.

I will be asked, will Tom Hitchcock start?  The answer is simple, let me see how he and others look like in training before we get to the match. There is great competition in our squad for a starting place, in fact the same could now be said of our substitutes bench. Do I employ two strikers on Tuesday or one or even three like we did at Gillingham for the last half hour?

We will have over 5,000 proud Millers supporting us. The fans have been fantastic in my time at Rotherham United and we will need them in full voice at a ground that also has some great supporters too.

Yesterday's win at Gillingham took us up to third in League One, can we catch the top two?

Can we catch them, absolutely yes! We all accept all we can do is try and win each match we play, if we don't do that the rest is irrelevant. Every match is important now and we will continue to do our best but no one should forget what this group of players and staff are achieving. Many if not most managers in League One predicted at the start of the season we would be fighting relegation, they did not consider the quality of player or the desire and backing we get from our supporters.

We know others may have to slip up at this late stage. Do I think Crawley or Swindon Town can beat Brentford in the week ahead? No, I don't but I know both those managers and players at those clubs will be desperate to win. 

Finally, your day was capped off with another positive result we understand winning the Grand National sweep?

Yes I did, what a day I had. The players sold me the last two tickets available in the hat and as I reminded them after my prize was handed over, I needed the winnings more than they did!

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