Last weekend Rotherham beat Sutton United 4-2 in the Papa John's Trophy final thanks largely to an equalising goal in the sixth minute of second half injury time. Back in November when we last played them at The Valley, Conor Washington grabbed a late goal to secure a 1-1 draw with the promotion contenders.
Can we expect more late goals when we take on second-placed Rotherham United at The New York Stadium this Saturday afternoon? Or could this be the start of a late surge that will take us up to the heady heights of a twelfth-placed finish in this topsy-turvy season?
One thing is for sure in Saturday's match. Our opponents have their eyes firmly on another major prize after last Sunday's late show against League Two Sutton. After our meeting back in November, The Millers surged towards the top of the table where at one point it looked as if they'd end up as runaway leaders. Their form though has dipped in recent weeks with some unexpected results including a 0-3 battering at home to lower-end Shrewsbury. That has left them sitting 3rd in the table, albeit with games in hand, going into this weekend's game.
Perhaps that dip in performance and slip down the table coincided with preparation for their Cup final. Last weekend's victory in the Papa John's Trophy may well have given The Millers a fresh appetite for a promotion push. Right now, things are looking tight at the top of the table with a meaty three way battle between Rotherham, Wigan and MK Dons. Plymouth too have an outside hope of contention after a sudden return to form. But with two games in hand on MK Dons, Rotherham are surely aiming for at least automatic promotion by season's end.
For us, the match is all about pride at this stage. It will give our lads a chance to test themselves against one of the top sides in the division, more than likely the last promotion contender we'll face this season. Apart from Ipswich who are running out of games to reach the play-offs, this is the last big one before pre-season and prep for a fresh assault on promotion next season.
In the Rotherham line-up, there are likely to be a couple of familiar faces from our own past promotion battles. Their club captain Richard Wood gave a good account of himself in defence for The Addicks in over 20 appearances in the 2013/14 season. On paper, striker Michael Smith spent a lot more time with us after signing from Darlington; staying three years between 2011 and 2014. However, a lot of that time was spent either on loan or sidelined with injury. It has only been in the period since joining Rotherham that he has really found his shooting boots, scoring over 50 times in around 180 appearances.
Other key players for Rotherham are likely to include Conor Washington's Northern Ireland international team mate Shane Ferguson and the Republic of Ireland winger Chiedozie Ogbene. Just a week after scoring a spectacular goal for his country against Belgium, Ogbene struck another stunner against Sutton in the Papa John's final.
The Millers appear to have set themselves up nicely for the promotion run-in and another bite at the Championship, having been relegated in yo-yo fashion at the end of 2020/21. Johnnie Jackson and the Addicks though will be well aware that this is their last bite of the cherry against one of the bigger clubs in the division. Though there's little left to play for apart from pride, surely our squad should be hungry to show their ability to mount a better campaign next season?
As Johnnie Jackson has said in advance of the game "they’ll be looking to be right at it. But so will we."