ANALYSIS: Millers pass character test

By David Beddows | 23/10/2017 0 comments

ANALYSIS: Millers pass character test
Millers players applaud the travelling 608 fans at full time. PIC: Trevor Price

WHETHER or not Rotherham United can last the pace this season, it's going to be fun finding out.

Paul Warne's entertainers, the second highest scorers in League One, are not just a fair weather team.

They can roll up their sleeves and dig out a result when necessary and Saturday's battling point at Oxford from 3-1 down proved again that the character of the team isn't in question.

Warne still won't be happy at shipping six goals in the last two games after a spell when his team appeared to be adopting something of a mean streak.

The good thing is that Rotherham have enough poke going forward to get out of some tight corners, the type they found themselves in at a blustery Kassam Stadium.

Warne said it was a "joyful and stressful" day on the touchline and it's a fair guess most of that stress was compacted into the first half-hour.

Quick, nimble and clever, Oxford's raiders sliced through with alarming regularity. It was an unconvincing reintroduction to the back four for Semi Ajayi and Josh Emmanuel, so much so that the defence may well be reshuffled again for Saturday's home tie with Gillingham.

The platform of Joe Newell's second goal in as many games, pouncing on a poor clearance, was soon lost when Jack Payne found the bottom corner from 20 yards.

Ryan WIlliams nets the Millers' second goal at the Kassam. PIC: Trevor Price

Sometimes it is just about hanging in there and Rotherham did just that after the dangerous Josh Ruffels cut inside to fire Oxford into the lead on the half-hour.

The match was a struggle for Will Vaulks, screening the back four, but when he handled to give Ryan Ledson the chance to extend the hosts' lead from the penalty spot, the midfielder's tame spot kick presented Marek Rodak with an easy save.

READ: Full-time reaction from boss Paul Warne and midfielder Richie Towell

Rotherham won't concede a softer goal this season than Oxford's third, stabbed in by grateful centre-half Curtis Nelson after a goalmouth scramble.

"When we conceded the third goal the lads didn't look like they would get back in it," groaned Warne. "Their heads dropped a little, which was disappointing."

The first lift was provided by Ryan Williams' out-of-the-blue 44th minute reply from Vaulks' long throw. The second came from Warne's half-time call to arms.

The result was that the Millers came out for the second half in a different frame of mind.

Kieffer Moore slots in Rotherham's equaliser and his 11th of the season. PIC: Trevor Price

Kieffer Moore had been quiet in the limp defeat at AFC Wimbledon and he wasn't at his most prominent again. He's still a lurking threat and the top scorer had already hooked an effort onto the top of the crossbar and had an effort disallowed before he put the finishing touch to some smart work by Newell and Williams to equalise 12 minutes from time. It's now 11 for the season and counting for the front man.

Urged on by their Spanish manager, Pep Clotet, Oxford carried a threat but weren’t allowed as many clear of sights of goal as they'd been allowed in the first half. They were kept on their toes by a lively cameo from winger Jon Taylor, who pressed his claims for a start this weekend, and there was no late tail-off like there had been at Wimbledon.

All told it was a good point away to a fellow top-six contender. Tucked in fifth spot and with both Darren Potter and Lee Frecklington close to returns, the Millers look in decent shape as October nears its end.

PLAYER RATINGS

Marek Rodak 7, Josh Emmanuel 5, Joe Mattock 6, Michael Ihiekwe 5, Semi Ajayi 5, Will Vaulks 5, Ryan Williams 7, Richie Towell 5, Joe Newell 6, Anthony Forde 6, Kieffer Moore 6

Subs: Jon Taylor for Towell (68) 6. Not used: Richard O'Donnell, David Ball, Jonson Clarke-Harris, Jerry Yates, Shaun Cummings, Richard Wood


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