League Two preview: Rotherham will welcome the return of Steve Evans


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The Independent Football

Steve Evans completes his six-match stadium ban this weekend and, unlike the rest of League Two, we reckon his Rotherham players will be longing for the loudmouth Glaswegian's return after the visit of Southend. Take the 9/4 available on Paul Sturrock's men in the draw no bet market.

The basement has been a duller place without Evans around. The FA threw the book at the notorious former Crawley boss for flashing at a female Bradford official following the infamous brawl at Valley Parade last March and the Millers have been fairly lacklustre in his absence with assistant Paul Raynor holding the fort.

The Yorkshire club have mustered eight points from five matches, which doesn't sound too bad, but results don't tell the whole story. Performances have lacked the passion and win-at-all-costs competitive edge you normally expect from an Evans team. Eight points from six matches would be a more accurate reflection, and that's how it might end up.

Home wins over Torquay and Oxford were unconvincing, even though the Gulls offered little and the U's were in the midst of an apalling run. Only Rochdale ventured into New York Stadium with any sort of vibrancy and they reaped full reward, landing odds of 7/2 with a 3-2 success. The gaps are filled in by goalless draws at Barnet and York.

So Southend have nothing to fear, other than the wrath of their manager Sturrock, as they bid to atone for the five points dropped in the last two home matches, including the slight embarrassment of last weekend's 2-2 draw with rock-bottom Barnet.

The Shrimpers were carrying heavy legs against the Bees having played with ten men for nearly 80 minutes against Burton four days earlier, but showed good spirit to fight back to snatch a point. Nonetheless, they seem to be treading a fine line with the manager's patience and a positive showing as underdogs here should set the record straight.

By and large, the Essex outfit are fairly reliable performers, they possess bags of experience and we can rest assured they will be heading north without any sort of inferiority complex, regardless of the money Rotherham have spent in their bid to land an automatic promotion spot. As such, there's plenty of mileage in the price.

Meanwhile, Dean Holdsworth's patience has finally snapped with his Aldershot players and it might just be the trigger for them to spring a big shock at top-of-the-table Gillingham. Have a nibble at some of the 5/1 on offer about the away win at Priestfield.

It's almost impossible to make a case for the Shots via the formbook so far but last season throws much better light on the standards they can set - the Hampshire club finished in the top-half, picking up 21 points from 14 matches against the top seven, and Holdsworth was expecting more of the same this term. 

For whatever reason, it hasn't happened. The squad remains virtually the same but the Shots are second from bottom and feeling very sorry for themselves, hence the need for Holdsworth to deliver a shock to the system with the promise of sweeping changes in the transfer market over the coming weeks.

So let's give the final word to Holdsworth: "I've protected them so far but there are changes to be made. I'm going to be very harsh with them now, they're not going to play unless their form comes back. We've tried the mental approach of having meetings and talking about the right things to do. If they don't learn they'll get replaced.

"You lose trust in players. At the moment, not enough of them are performing. We don't have a massive squad and we try to get the best out of everyone we can. At the moment, it's not coming out. I've got some serious work to do to try and get a couple of players in and bring some quality to the club. We've had some good times and we want them back."

Betting advice...

2pts Southend to beat Rotherham (draw no bet) at 9/4 (Ladbrokes)

Millers have been lacklustre of late and Sturrock's men won't have any inferiority complex.

1pt Aldershot to beat Gillingham at 5/1 (Boylesports)

Out-of-sorts Shots might respond to their manager's patience finally snapping in midweek.

For more betting advice, visit Best of the Bets by clicking here.