Freddie on fire but no smiles from the Millers ... the story of Southend United 2 Rotherham United 2

By Paul Davis | 15/12/2019

Freddie on fire but no smiles from the Millers ... the story of Southend United 2 Rotherham United 2
Freddie Ladapo is eager to restart play after equalising. Pictures by Trevor Price

FREDDIE Ladapo just loves scoring yet there was no goal grin from the Rotherham United frontman when he hit the target at Roots Hall.

The summer signing struck for the sixth time in his last five games but all he did after levelling the scores against lowly Southend United was grab the ball and head straight back to the centre circle.

2-2 on the hour mark and 2-2 it stayed.

A point away from home is always welcome. However, the Millers' sterling form on their travels and the Shrimpers woeful results on their own patch - just one League One point at home before yesterday - meant Paul Warne's men were wanting more.

That's why there was frustration rather than smiles in the Rotherham camp even though the result lifted them back into the top six.

Ladapo, playing against his former club, was a regular menace and might have finished with a hat-trick. The £400,000 buy with the 'Let's go' catchphrase has really got going in recent weeks.

"Freddie could have had a couple more at the end," manager Paul Warne said. "He created those chances himself. I thought he was a real nuisance all day."

A point gained or two dropped? Both Warne and captain Michael Ihiekwe thought two dropped.

"A draw probably pleased Southend more than it did me," the boss acknowledged. "We were trying to get the win. But to come to a place like this, get a point against an improving side and get back among the play-off places is good.

"We knew it was going to be a difficult game. It was windy and the pitch was bobbly."

Ladapo scores

The Millers never hit the heights of their away triumphs at places likes Ipswich and Gillingham. They created opportunities but were given more trouble than they would have liked by opposition 11 points adrift of safety.

After three league wins on the trot, Rotherham have stuttered lately, losing twice before being held by the Shrimpers.

It's fair to say Freddie is firing more than the Millers are right now.

THE MATCH

A player called Elvis launched the ball and Rotherham were left All Shook Up.

They'd led 1-0 at the break, a scrappy Rob Kiernan own goal following Jake Hastie's low corner summing up a scrappy first half, and the scene was set for them to ease away after the break against opponents low on points and even lower in confidence.

But Southend were level from the penalty spot through Jason Demetriou within four minutes of the restart and three minutes later right-back Elvis Bwomono hoofed one over the top for Sam Mantom to run on to and tuck past Daniel Iversen.

No-one had seen that coming. Not the Shrimpers, not the Millers, not Warne who revealed: "At half-time we just said: 'Keep playing the way you are and we should be all right.'"

Now it was a test of character and Ladapo passed with flying colours as he showed his usual predatory instincts from close range moments after Haste had rattled the bar with a thumping shot.

Brandon Goodship hit the bar for the Shrimpers with a shot that bounced up off the ground, before surviving a red-card appeal when he scythed down Matt Olosunde, but it was Warne's men who chased victory the hardest.

Anger over Brandon Goodship's challenge on Matt Olosunde

Twice in the dying stages Ladapo was close to scoring again, forcing crucial saves from Nathan Bishop with sharp, opportunist attempts.

Illness had affected several Rotherham players in the build-up to the clash but Ladapo looked full of beans and his goal return is now a healthy 11 in 23 outings.

"Freddie's always a goal threat," said Warne who had switched from his usual 4-4-1-1 formation to 4-4-2. "His work rate for the team was good today. He can make a chance out of nothing, which is a rare thing.

"We brought him to the club to score goals. No-one likes scoring more than him.

"We were carrying some illness and injuries. We had to play a narrow four in midfield who probably have less than 100 league games between them. The young men, after the initial ten or 15 minutes, have done all right. On another day we might have nicked it.

"We come out for the second half and give away a needless free-kick (though Olosunde), which didn't best please me."

That led to Southend's first goal when the ball bounced up unkindly for Chiedozie Ogbene and the winger couldn't get his hand out of the way.

"We went 2-1 down but then there was some really good character from the lads to get back into it." Warne added. "We took the game to Southend at 2-2.

"There was a lot of goalmouth action after the break. If you'd paid for a ticket you got more value in the second half than you did the first."

As for Southend's second goal after his team had been opened up too easily ... "I have a view on that but I'd like to keep it to myself."

Ihiekwe said:  "I thought it was a game we were in control of despite not being at our best. I'm disappointed.

"It's not the worst point, but these are the type of games we want to be winning. We need to learn from those little spells when we're conceding. It's a mentality thing. We're switching off in an important part of games."

CHRISTMAS TIME

Warne took heart from his players' response to falling behind, believing it can help them as they head into a festive schedule of four fixtures in 11 days.

"The lads were going for it," the manager said. "When the ball went out of play in the 92nd minute Dan Barlaser ran to get it to give it to their goalkeeper to keep the game going.

Paul Warne with Southend boss Sol Campbell

"The lads did everything they could. I have got no complaints at their effort levels. A point today ... we can build on that for the home games coming up."

Next are clashes at AESSEAL New York Stadium against teams around Rotherham in the play-off reckoning, Fleetwood Town, Peterborough United and Blackpool, with a Boxing Day trip to Shrewsbury Town sandwiched between the Fleetwood and Posh showdowns.

While going through a squad rebuild and yet to fully realise their potential, the Millers have still done enough in this campaign to put themselves in the play-off mix.

One way or another, Christmas will play a major part in shaping their season.

Time to step up the home form.

Or, as someone might say, let's go.

Southend (4-5-1): Nathan Bishop; Elvis Bwomono, Timothee Dieng, Rob Kiernan, Harry Lennon; Stephen McLaughlin (Simon Cox 83), Jason Demetriou, Mark Milligan, Sam Mantom (Isaac Hutchinson 75), Brandon Goodship (Layton Ndukwu 87); Stephen Humphrys. Subs not used: Mark Oxley, Ethan Hamilton, Matt Rush, Eren Kinali.

Rotherham (4-4-2): Daniel Iversen; Matt Olosunde, Michael Ihiekwe, Clark Robertson, Joe Mattock; Chiedozie Ogbene, Dan Barlaser, Ben Wiles, Jake Hastie; Michael Smith (Carlton Morris 77), Freddie Ladapo. Subs not used: Lewis Price, Adam Thompson, Trevor Clarke, Shaun MacDonald, Kyle Vassell, Julien Lamy.

Goals: Kiernan og 29, Ladapo 60 (Rotherham); Demetriou pen 49, Mantom 52 (Southend).

Referee: Charles Breakspear (Surrey).

Attendance: 5,652 (423).


The fact you are here means you are interested in what goes on in your town.

We want to continue holding local authorities to account, attending court and council meetings, as well as providing breaking news, competitions and offers – but it costs money. Online advertising does not cover costs, therefore we feel the need to ask for your help in ensuring we can provide the best possible coverage, online and in our printed products.
For as little as £1, you can support the Rotherham Advertiser – and it only takes a minute.
Click here to support local news.


Spotted something we should know about?

Call our Newsdesk on 01709 803562
Or email newsdesk@rotherhamadvertiser.co.uk
Message us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TheRotherhamAdvertiser/