SKIPPER Lee Frecklington grabbed a hat-trick as resurgent Rotherham United banked a third win on the spin with a comprehensive victory over Walsall at the AESSEAL New York Stadium.
Frecklington’s treble and a brace from winger Jon Taylor capped a 5-1 success, with four of the home goals coming in the first half.
Following the three-pointers against Portsmouth and Bury, the hot run takes the Millers into the higher reaches of League One ahead of Saturday’s tasty Yorkshire derby at Bradford City.
After a cagey start, they burst into life and looked like scoring every time they crossed the halfway line.
Frecklington lit the blue touch paper with a terrific strike on 12 minutes, sending a terrific, dipping 30-yard volley over flailing goalkeeper Mark Gillespie.
The goal scorer showed his value at the other end, heading off the line, and it proved vital because within moments the Millers grabbed their second. Ryan Williams centered and Taylor got in front of his marker to find the net with a glancing header.
Urged on by Paul Warne, Rotherham continued to swarm all over Walsall and the visitors were in disarray.
Their failure to deal with Will Vaulks’ long throw ended with Taylor forcing the ball over the line to make it 3-0 on 24 minutes and a terrific first half-hour was capped by a fourth goal and a second of the night for Frecklington.
Vaulks, filling in at right-back for the night, was again involved, crossing for the experienced midfield man to send a header beyond the reach of the keeper.
Walsall’s travelling supporters were stunned, demanding their money back and directing chants of “you don’t know what you’re doing” at manager Jon Whitney.
Indeed, things might have got worse for them before the break and it took two smart saves from Williams to keep the score at 4-0.
After a dressing-down at half time, the visitors emerged with more purpose at the start of the second half and pulled a goal back within four minutes when Amadou Bakayoko turned the ball in from close range.
Rotherham succeeded in taking the sting out of the visitors’ revival, with the otherwise quiet going close with a shot on the turn and Darren Potter deflecting a Joe Mattock drive just over the bar, and the seal was put on a perfect night two minutes from time. Substitute and former Walsall man Anthony Forde broke down the right and his cross was cracked in by Frecklington in front of a delighted kop.
It is the first time the Millers have banked three successive wins since March 2016.
Millers: Rodak; Vaulks, Mattock, Wood, Ihiekwe; Potter; Williams, Towell, Frecklington, Taylor (Forde 71); Moore (Ball 62)
Walsall: Gillespie; Guthrie, Wilson, Leahy, Donnellan (Cuvelier 31), Leahy, Devlin, Chambers, Oztumer, Roberts, Bakayoko (Agyei 71)
Referee: Martin Coy
Attendance: 7,330 (280 visitors)