Derby dismay, the inquest behind closed doors and the instant impact of Jake Hastie ... the story of Doncaster Rovers 2 Rotherham United 1

By Paul Davis | 07/09/2019

Derby dismay, the inquest behind closed doors and the instant impact of Jake Hastie ... the story of Doncaster Rovers 2 Rotherham United 1
Freddie Ladapo in action against Rovers. Pictures by Kerrie Beddows

AN hour and 17 minutes passed between the final whistle and Paul Warne emerging from the dressing room.

Rotherham had been beaten in their derby duel at Doncaster Rovers. There are ways to lose and this wasn't one of them.

The manager wasn't having it.

Even the substitutes out doing their post-match running on the Keepmoat Stadium pitch were called in early from their exertions. No-one was escaping before the door to the Millers' inner sanctum was closed.

"Me and Rich (assistant manager Richie Barker) are both teachers," Warne said. "We just sat them down and were talking to them and saying some home truths - about ourselves and them."

At 2.20pm on Saturday he'd stood alone on the sideline, in stern-faced, arms-folded contemplation, after his side had given up a one-goal interval lead in a second-half submission that saw unbeaten Rovers fight back for a 2-1 victory.

By 3.37pm, the talking was finally done and he returned to the touchline, apologising for his tardiness and ready to address waiting journalists.

This wasn't the Warne we're all used to. Win, defeat or draw, the boss nearly always adopts a positive manner. This time he was hurting. Restless. Grim.

This is a season where many people expect Rotherham to challenge for League One promotion. But there are many new faces and not yet, with the campaign still in its infancy after a summer of squad transformation, the fiery spirit of old.

A lot of words and blood will have flowed in that hour-plus inquest after the Millers had been hit by a late goal for the third match in succession.

Jamie Lindsay makes his first Millers league start

"You have to ride a storm at some stage wherever you play away," the manager said. "We need to be psychologically a bit stronger when the pressure comes on.

"If we had continued our first-half performance in the second half it would have been more than enough to win.

"It means a lot to the Rotherham fans to come here and see us perform. To lose the way we did after playing so well in the first half makes it worse.

"If we don't learn from the second half we're in trouble, aren't we? I won't be their teacher for long if we keep throwing away leads or can't see out games."

THE MATCH

Six minutes into the second half, Richard Wood rose highest at a corner from new boy Jake Hastie and the ball flew just over.

The Millers were leading 1-0 and a second goal was coming. It never arrived and neither did the victory that the visitors' first-half display had suggested.

From that point, Doncaster stepped up and Rotherham, fatally, stepped back.

Rovers had seen the value of Sterling fall throughout the opening period as the impact of striker Kazaiah Sterling trailed away from minimal to zero.

They responded by replacing him at the break with Niall Ennis and Ennis the menace changed the game in the home side's favour.

His was the low pull-back that James Coppinger mishit into the net for a deserved 66th-minute leveller and it was he who was tugged back by Michael Ihiekwe in the 87th minute to allow Ben Whiteman to be the penalty hero.

"I thought their subs made them better," Warne acknowledged. "They got their tails up. The pitch started to get more stretched and we weren't doing as well as we did in the first half.

"When you're the away team, you possibly need to slow the game down a bit, which we didn't do. They had a 15-minute period where they were on top and we couldn't get out. The game had completely swung.

"The penalty was very harsh. I thought it was soft. Unfortunately, we didn't get the second goal when we were in the ascendancy. That came back to bite us."

Rotherham take the lead

Hastie's debut goal, when his inswinging free-kick evaded everyone to nestle in the net, had given the Millers a 37th-minute lead, and Ihiekwe and Ben Wiles had seen first-half headers drift just wide.

But only the defiance of goalkeeper Lewis Price, saving from Ben Sheaf, former Millers pair Jon Taylor and Reece James and Ennis, kept the score down after the interval, leading to the post-match lock-in.

"I apologise," Warne said. "I've come out late. I've had the lads in for, I don't know, an hour or so. It wasn't a rant or a rave.

"I'm hugely disappointed, as are the group because they want to win football games.

"We conceded a late goal against Tranmere last week. A win then would have us on nine points. Had we seen it out today, we would have been on 12 points and we're cooking.

"We're not that far off. But then we are far off. We're not winning games and winning is what we're paid to do.

"We did enough in the first half. We had a couple of great chances from corners. It just isn't coming off for us at the moment."

Rovers spell of dominance was more like 30 minutes than 15 and other attempts missed the target as they outpassed and outhustled Warne's struggling side.

The Millers' substitutions had nowhere the same effect as the home side's and were all enforced as Shaun MacDonald picked up a knock, Carlton Morris ran out of gas after three and a half weeks without a game and Hastie began cramping up.

Paul Warne

Old boy Taylor came off at 1-1 to cheers from the home crowd, a hug from his ex-manager and, in keeping with the 80 minutes that had gone before, boos from the section of away fans he'd so upset by joining a South Yorkshire rival.

"After the turnover of players we've had, the season just hasn't started as well as I would have liked," Warne said. "I know it's going to take a bit of time to bed in. Hopefully that will happen sooner rather than later."

TASTY HASTIE

Pace, balance and brilliant delivery ... it didn't take long for 20-year-old Glasgow Rangers loanee Hastie, by far the best player on either side in the first half, to announce himself south of the border.

"He was good," said Warne "He is a nice kid and is positive. He started the game quite shy, but he grew into it and then he blew up, bless him.

"All his set-pieces were good and on another day we take one of those and are 2-0 up. We would have quietened the home crowd really well as we were so dominant. But at the end the scoreline says 2-1 and it is a harsh pill for us to swallow."

After 12 new arrivals and five league outings, Rotherham, who had won both of their away games before this contest, find themselves in 15th spot with games in hand.

Jake Hastie shines

They have good players but have yet to become a team in their manager's mould, one of guts, unquenchable desire and body-on-the-line unity.

Warne was still explaining the length of his delay: "I would be letting the players down if I didn't let them know what I think.

"I want the best for them and for them to be the best they can be every day. For 60 minutes, they were, but it takes 90 minutes. It is my job with the coaches to get every bit of energy and ability out of them."

That second-half response to Rovers' equaliser had been as sorry as his apology.

By the time the boss faced questions, matchday rubbish lay bagged up and awaiting collection, the stadium was nearly deserted and the last few staff were preparing to go home.

Groundsmen had almost completed a full circuit of the pitch and the noise of their mowers as they came close to the touchline media throng forced the press conference to be taken indoors.

Just the last few cuts to complete in the arena where the Millers had been cut down.

Goals: Coppinger 66, Whiteman pen 87 (Doncaster); Hastie 37 (Rotherham).

Doncaster (4-2-3-1): Ian Lawlor; Brad Halliday, Tom Anderson, Cameron John, Reece James; Ben Sheaf, Ben Whiteman; Jon Taylor (Matty Blair 80), James Coppinger, Alfie May (Kieran Sadlier 61); Kazaiah Sterling (Niall Ennis H-T). Subs not used: Seny Dieng, Danny Amos, Shane Blaney, Will Longbottom.

Rotherham (4-3-3): Lewis Price; Matt Olosunde, Michael Ihiekwe, Richard Wood, Clark Robertson; Ben Wiles, Shaun MacDonald (Matt Crooks 69), Jamie Lindsay; Carlton Morris (Michael Smith 80), Freddie Ladapo, Jake Hastie (Joe Mattock 76). Subs not used: Laurence Bilboe, Adam Thompson, Dan Barlaser, Julien Lamy.

Referee: Martin Coy (Durham).

Attendance: 11,407 (3,392).


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