ANALYSIS: Much to admire in Millers' turnaround

By David Beddows | 02/10/2017 0 comments

ANALYSIS: Much to admire in Millers' turnaround
Kieffer Moore celebrates his match winner with Shaun Cummings.

A POINT away from the play-off places, five home league wins out of six and a striker scoring goals for fun.

It might not be the biggest League One story of the season so far — that belongs to Paul Hurst's Shrewsbury Town — but the steady turn-around taking place at Rotherham United is praiseworthy.

After all the trials and tribulations of 2017, a competitive, entertaining and honest team has emerged from the wreckage very much in the image of Paul Warne.

Sorting out the bad away form in time for Saturday's trip to Rochdale will be occupying his mind this week, but at least he does so on the back of another satisfying afternoon at the AESSEAL New York Stadium.

Compared to the goals blitzes seen there this season, it was a mucky victory in comparison. But how mucky exactly? Rotherham created enough chances to win three games and Northampton could so easily have been hit for five like Southend, Walsall and Oldham were.

What pleased Warne as much as anything else was the clean sheet, only the third in 14 matches this term.

Defending, as the manager pointed out last week, is a team effort. But Warne is also desperate to have an established, dependable back four he can go to war with.

There will be no real need to change the back line of Michael Ihiekwe, Richard Wood, Joe Mattock and the recalled Shaun Cummings this weekend and it is a shame that on-loan goalkeeper Marek Rodak will be away on international duty.

The Slovakian was criticised for punching rather than catching the barrage of crosses that came his way on Saturday.

That's his style and on a wet day and with Northampton's raiders, including Alex Revell, breathing down his neck, it wasn't a bad policy.

Rodak also weighed in with a couple of smart stops and had to be on his toes, particularly in an end-to-end first half.

The difference was that the Millers had the defensive diligence and the extra creativity, exemplified by the excellent Richie Towell, to win through.

Joe Newell gets away from Northampton's Matt Grimes. Pictures: STEVE METTAM

Moore could have had a hat-trick and, funnily enough, so could centre-half Michael Ihiekwe, his best effort a first-half drive tipped onto the bar by goalkeeper Matt Ingram.

Two good blocks had kept Moore off the scoresheet in the first half but it was the man of the moment who still had the final say.

When Cummings' fierce drive came off the keeper seven minutes into the second half, he was in the right place to stab in his ninth goal in 11 games and the match winner.

Moore's last action of the game before being susbstituted was a header against the bar. Northampton were glad to see the back of him.

Chasing their first away win, their first-half threat subsided after half time and their goals drought has now ticked past the 400-minute mark.

Jonson Clarke-Harris holds the ball up.

They could have been further punished by Ryan Williams, Moore's replacement Jonson Clarke-Harris and particularly Will Vaulks. Fresh as a sub, he had a great chance to make a name for himself in stoppage time only to slice wide when clean through.

The NYS faithful could still acclaim another three points and as the nights draw in, onset of autumn doesn't seem half as depressing as it was a year ago.

MATCH RATINGS
Marek Rodak 7, Shaun Cummings 6, Joe Mattock 6, Michael Ihiekwe 7, Richard Wood 7; Ryan Williams 6, Lee Frecklington 6, Darren Potter 7, Richie Towell 8, Joe Newell 6, Kieffer Moore 8
Subs: Jonson Clarke-Harris for Moore (81), Will Vaulks for Towell (90), Semi Ajayi for Frecklington (90). Not used: Richard O'Donnell, Josh Emmanuel, Anthony Forde, Jerry Yates.

The Millers take on Chesterfield in the Checkatrade Trophy at the AESSEAL New York tomorrow (7pm).


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