'We're strong when we're together' ... Will Vaulks and Joe Mattock on today's Rotherham United v West Brom clash

WILL Vaulks is calling on Rotherham United to use their underdog status to take a bite out of another of the Championship's big boys.
Will VaulksWill Vaulks
Will Vaulks

The 20th-placed Millers face third-placed West Bromwich Albion tomorrow at the AESSEAL New York Stadium, which they have turned into a virtual fortress this season.

Paul Warne's side have lost only once on home soil and have beaten promotion contenders Derby County and Swansea City while also holding Stoke City and Sheffield United to draws.

Vaulks believes Rotherham, three points clear of the drop zone in their first season back in the second tier, are at the best when they're facing a challenge most observers reckon is beyond them.

“I think the 'underdog' mentality suits us,” the midfielder said. “We have to compete as a team. That's when we're strong: when we're together.”

The Millers have lost only once in their last ten outings, although eight of those contests have ended in draws, while the Baggies arrive in South Yorkshire with four wins and two draws from their previous six matches.

“It's a tough game. I'm really looking forward to it,” Vaulks said. “They've come down from the Premier League but have managed to hold things together. A lot of teams tend to struggle when they come down but West Brom haven't.

“It will be a tough test. We will have a game-plan. They are a good team but we are good at home.”

Two divisions separated the clubs last term and Vaulks outlined the size of the task facing a Rotherham squad seeking to establish themselves in the division above following League One promotion.

People have to realise we're underdogs in virtually every game we play in the Championship,” the 25-year-old said.

“People expected us to beat Reading last week (a 1-1 draw) because we were at home and they're below us in the table but, really, we were underdogs against them when you look at the players in their squad.

“Their squad is better than ours. They have better players, players who have played at a much higher level.

“People say we're doing well against the big teams. Nearly every team is a big team in this division. Every game is hard.

“We have had too many draws and, obviously, we need to turn some of those into wins.”

************************************

JOE Mattock is tipping Rotherham United to come flying out of the blocks for one of their toughest home encounters of the season.

The Millers kick off their Championship festive programme with a match against high-flying West Bromwich Albion at AESSEAL New York Stadium tomorrow.

And the left-back, scorer of a 90th-minute equaliser in the 1-1 draw against Reading last weekend, is confident there will be no repeat of the sluggish opening which cost Paul Warne's side a chance of victory over the Royals.

“It’s going to be tough,” he said. “West Brom are a very good team, but we are more than capable of beating them, especially if we start the way we can start.

“If we start like we did against Reading last week, we might struggle. That was an out-of-character performance in the first half, though, and I can’t see that happening again.

“We have learned from that and will be pushing for the win on Saturday.”

Rotherham were a goal down at half-time against Reading before taking control of the second period and snatching a late leveller in front of the kop.

Baggies old boy Mattock believes playing towards the North Stand after the interval gives him and his teammates an extra lift.

“When we shoot that way in the second half, we always seem to be massively on top,” he said.

“We seem to have this extra ten per cent of energy and become a real force going forward.”

The 20th-placed Millers are proving to be difficult opponents in their first season back in the second tier.

The Reading result was their eighth stalemate in their last ten matches and only their failure to convert a couple of those draws into three-point hauls has prevented them climbing the table.

Darren Moore's men arrive in South Yorkshire in third spot but Rotherham fear no-one on their own turf where they have lost only once this term.

“We have got some really good positives to take from the last few games,” Mattock said. “Obviously, the wins have not been quite there, but we are not losing either.

“Performances are there and I do feel we have momentum.

“It’s just mistakes which are letting us down. If we can just eradicate those errors, I can see us starting to get some wins.

“West Brom are my former team and I am looking forward to playing them.”

************************************

PRESENT boss Paul Warne was in the Rotherham United starting 11 the last time West Bromwich came calling at the home of the Millers.

Rotherham were beaten 3-0 in October 2003 at Millmoor in the old Division One by a Rob Hulse double and an own goal by Shaun Barker.

The Millers got their revenge at the Hawthorns the following February, winning 1-0 through a Chris Sedgwick effort.

Warne came on as a second-half substitute that day.

The most recent clash between the two sides was in the Carling Cup in August 2009 when the Baggies triumphed 4-3 in extra time at home.

These articles first appeared in yesterday's Advertiser