EFL Trophy disappointment and the striker who beat the Millers up ... the story of Lincoln City 3 Rotherham United 0

EFL Trophy disappointment and the striker who beat the Millers up ... the story of Lincoln City 3 Rotherham United 0

By Paul Davis | 12/11/2019

EFL Trophy disappointment and the striker who beat the Millers up ... the story of Lincoln City 3 Rotherham United 0
Freddie Ladapo in action at Lincoln. Picture by Steve Mettam

AT LEAST there won't be another cold night on the road to endure.

The knockout rounds of the EFL Trophy will be of no concern to Rotherham United after their limp effort at Lincoln City saw them exit the competition nobody likes at the group stage.

A draw or win would have earned them a December away tie as the second-placed side but they froze in the first half on a bitter evening at SIncil Bank.

Two goals in as many minutes saw them 2-0 down before the quarter-hour mark and there would be no way back.

There never looked like being a way back.

LIncoln rounded off their triumph with another goal near the end.

It's disappointing," said manager Paul Warne who fielded a relatively strong team against the Imps. "I don't go anywhere to lose a game. It gave me a good look at a few players.

"We came here to get a positive result and go through. Unfortunately, that isn't the case.

"Our midfielder, Dan Barlaser, tried to get on the ball for us but I just felt we didn't have any cutting edge to our play tonight.

"Our final ball in wasn't good enough, our attempts on goal weren't good enough."

Around 150 hardy Millers souls, wrapped up against the elements, made the trip to Lincolnshire and were wishing they hadn't when John Akinde struck at the double early on.

He scored from the spot on 12 minutes, sending his penalty straight down the middle after Matt Olosunde was judged to have brought down Tom Pett.

Two minutes later, the striker made things even worse for Rotherham when he claimed his second goal as his deflected shot found the bottom corner.

"I think their centre-forward beat us up and won all their first contacts," Warne said.

"They had runners off the ball. We didn't win any of our first contacts up the other end and didn't have midfield runners off the ball."

Over the years, Millers fans have grown used to seeing Lee Frecklington, clad in a red and white shirt, dictating play in midfield.

This time he was wearing the same colours but doing it for Lincoln in his first appearance of the season as Rotherham struggled to make any headway.

Lewis Price, having struggled with his kicking, did better with his hands close to the break to save from Anderson and then help block Jorge Grant's follow-up.

In the crisp air inside a stadium full of empty seats, Warne could be clearly heard urging on his side after the break.

Freddie Ladapo curled a shot on the turn wide in the 63rd minute and Barlaser wasn't far away in the 77th but other than that Rotherham showed little sign of hauling themselves back into the contest despite their manager's cajoling.

The home side maintained their threat and Price denied Grant when the Lincoln man was bearing down on goal with 12 minutes remaining before producing a fine stops to deny Jack Payne and Harry Anderson.

However, he was powerless to stop substitute Tyler Walker adding to the misery with a header as the Imps chased in vain the four-goal margin of victory that would have seen them leapfrog Doncaster Rovers and take the Northern Group H runners-up spot.

In truth, few Millers will rue going out of this tournament but it was a poor way for a four-match winning away streak to come to an end.

Lincoln, needing the fillip of a victory after only one in 13 games, had selected a strong line-up themselves and fully deserved their triumph.

The draw for the second round, meanwhile, takes place at 2pm on Saturday.

Rotherham have far more important matters to concern them an hour later: the return to League One action and their play-off push at home to Accrington Stanley.

"Our focus from Thursday will be entirely on Accrington," Warne said. "The league, obviously, is our priority.

"That doesn't mean that I'm not disappointed tonight, though."

Lincoln (4-4-1-1): Grant Smith; Harry Anderson, Callum Connolly, Max Melbourne, Ben Coker (Harry Toffolo 60); Jorge Grant, Tom Pett, Lee Frecklington (Jake Hesketh 58), Ellis Chapman; Jack Payne (Tyler Walker 82); John Akinde. Subs not used: Josh Vickers, Jason Shackell, Jordan Adebayo-Smith, Neil Eardley.

Rotherham (4-4-2): Lewis Price; Matt Olosunde, Jake Cooper, Adam Thompson (Clark Robertson 69), Akeem Hinds; Julien Lamy (Chiedozie Ogbene 58), Jamie Lindsay, Dan Barlaser, Jake Hastie (Carlton Morris 69); Freddie Ladapo, Michael Smith. Subs not used: Daniel Iversen, Billy Jones, Ben Wiles, Matt Crooks.

Goals: Akinde pen 12, 14, Walker 87 (Lincoln).

Referee: James Oldham (Derbyshire).

Attendance: 1,860 (137).

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