Paul Warne's Rotherham team will arrive at The Valley on Monday sitting comfortably in fourth place with an eight point lead over play-off rivals Charlton and Peterborough. This is a remarkable transformation after a very average start to the season but recent results have been unconvincing and there are signs that they are beginning to stumble.
When Bauer and Magennis scored the goals to give Charlton a 2-0 win at The New York Stadium back in August the defeat left Rotherham in 19th place. When they lost at Bristol Rovers on 2nd December they had made it up to 13th but were still nine points behind us. They then went on a remarkable run through December, January and February in which they were unbeaten in fourteen games, eleven of which they won. This culminated in a run of seven continuous victories which included winning at Shrewsbury and Scunthorpe. This had been achieved despite losing top scorer Kieffer Moore (13 in 22) to Barnsley in early January and, after beating Doncaster at the end of February, they were only six points off an automatic promotion place.
March has not been so kind, however. The month began with a shock home defeat to Rochdale and a 3-2 defeat at Milton Keynes. There was some respite with a 3-0 win at Northampton (only three?) but Chris Powell's Southend beat them 2-0 last week. Their confidence can't have been helped by allowing Peterborough to snatch a 98th minute equaliser on Good Friday. An automatic promotion spot is now thirteen points away and consolidation in the play-off spots will now be their goal over the last seven games.
Kieffer Moore's replacement is former Charlton man Michael Smith who looked very poor when he appeared for Bury earlier this season. Home fans will also be able to assess Semi Ajayi who came through the Sparrows Lane Academy but couldn't break through into the first team. Amazingly, he was then picked up by Arsenal and played in their development team before loan periods at Cardiff and Crewe on his way to Rotherham.
Charlton supporters will be heading to The Valley with a spring in their step. Lee Bowyer's stress on keeping things simple seems to have revitalised the squad and expectations are high. He has said that he is unlikely to rotate the squad for the game - "The biggest thing for me is if it ain't broke, don't fix it. At the moment, it’s not broken.”
Twenty years ago this week Charlton embarked on a run of six wins in seven games without conceding a goal. We all know where that led. Could it be happening again?