Jamie Lindsay's honesty, the second-half no-show and the ghost of Jonson Clarke-Harris... the story of Bristol Rovers 1 Rotherham United 0

By Paul Davis | 29/09/2019

Jamie Lindsay's honesty, the second-half no-show and the ghost of Jonson Clarke-Harris... the story of Bristol Rovers 1 Rotherham United 0
Jamie Lindsay in action at Bristol Rovers. Pictures by Trevor Price

"NOT good enough," said Jamie Lindsay. "We didn't deserve to win the game."

He was just getting started.

Rotherham United, looking for the win that would really kick-start their League One campaign and push them towards the top six, had surrendered to Bristol Rovers in a supine second-half display.

Outfought after the break. Outmanoeuvred. Outplayed.

Manager Paul Warne, publicly containing his anger, refrained from castigating his side and settled for "outmuscled".

But Lindsay, the midfielder signed in the summer from Ross County, wasn't holding back.

"It's just so disappointing to come here and perform like that," he said. "It's not as if they are a better team. But on the day they looked better.

"They probably wanted it more than we wanted it and you should never come off after a game of football and say that.

"Fair enough if you play a team that are better than you, there's nothing you can do about that. But to come off a pitch having lost to a team no better than you, and for them to have played the way they did and for us to have played the way we did, is hard to take."

There's a bit of mongrel in the new boy. He's tough and narky, doesn't shirk a challenge, leaves a bit in, gives someone a shove off the ball. The Millers needed more of that on a day when they lacked dogs of war.

The substance of Sunderland 11 days earlier when the Millers had fought back for a point at the Stadium of Light simply wasn't there on Saturday.

"The first half was even. They had a couple of chances. We had a couple of chances," Lindsay added. "We came out for the second half, lost the goal and just lost it."

After a summer of change, Rotherham looked to be heading in the right direction that night. However, in a season of play-off hopes, events in Bristol showed that, for now, they remain pretenders rather than contenders.

Injuries have hit hard, 12 new signings are still settling, some major departures are being missed and the spirit of the past two campaigns has yet to re-emerge.

"I need to step up," Lindsay said. "Everybody needs to step up."

He was far from finished.

THE GAME

Jonson Clarke-Harris won the match for Bristol. Of course he did. It was written in the stars that the one-time Millers record buy who has come good in a Bristol shirt would bite his former club.

He struck in the 48th minute, powering in on goal with calves as thick as his thighs and sweeping the ball low past Daniel Iversen from just inside the area to preserve Rovers' unbeaten home record.

Jonson Clarke-Harris scores

Lindsay struggled for words at times as he tried to explain how Rotherham failed to respond. He didn't have all the answers but he did have honesty.

"I don't know why we lost our way. If I did, I'd have done something to stop it," he said. "We need to get together and find a way because there are going to be times in the season when we lose the first goal.

"We have to come back. If losing the first goal means we're going to lose the game then we're in trouble. We can't let that happen.

"If we go behind, we have to react better. There are 11 players on the pitch who all have to take responsibility for that."

At times it was hard to catch what he was saying on the Memorial Stadium touchline as litter-blowers shrieked in the background, rounding up rubbish while the player picked over the debris of a dismal second-half effort.

"I'd agree wi' that, aye," he said in a strong Glaswegian accent when asked if the Millers needed to be nastier. "We didn't even look like getting the goal back, if I'm being honest. I believe we should be coming to places like this and winning.

"We need to want it. We have to find a way to win whatever it takes. If it's going to be a scrap, then we need to scrap harder than them. If it's about playing football, then we need to play better than them. And if they score first, we need to find a way to win a game of football."

The result left Rotherham in 13th spot, with three wins, three draws and three defeats - with no reason to panic but with reason to be concerned and with work still to do.

An even opening period saw Iversen save the visitors in the 17th minute as he thwarted clean-through Tyler Smith with his foot and Jake Hastie bring out the best in Anssi Jaakkola with a 35th-minute, 22-yard, dipping volley.

Matt Crooks and Jake Hastie, after a mesmerising little run and dribble, swept inviting balls across goal but each time, with the goal gaping, forwards Freddie Ladapo and Carlton Morris were nowhere to be seen.

Clarke-Harris did what Clarke-Harris at his best can do and only Iversen, beating away Liam Sercombe's volley and substitute Victor Adeboyejo's blast from a tight angle kept the score down.

Rotherham sub Matt Olosunde cut inside and his 86th-minute curler troubled Jaakkola and Ladapo had a stoppage-time shot blocked but these were mere footnotes of a dismal day.

Someone was being direct, unafraid, on the front foot - all the things the Millers had needed to be and had not been in the second half.

"Too soft," said Lindsay. "It needs to be fixed."

CLARKE-HARRIS

Everyone knows Clarke-Harris is capable of this kind of finish. The pity is, we didn't see enough of it during his time at AESSEAL New York Stadium.

Clark Robertson is one of the division's best centre-halves and he won't be happy how a speculative ball over the top from Sercombe allowed the attacker to steal half a yard and get the wrong side of him.

Defeat led to the second prolonged changing-room inquest in three weeks, following the 2-1 derby loss at Doncaster Rovers in early October.

"It was a very honest dressing room afterwards," Lindsay revealed. "Everyone had their say. It's probably the best way to get things out there to try to help the situation.

Dejection for skipper Joe Mattock

"It's not about digging each other out and shifting the blame on to somebody else. It's about sorting things out for everyone's benefit.

"We all agreed that today wasn't good enough. It's sad really. All those fans who have travelled however far it is to watch us ... if I was a fan travelling to watch that, I wouldn't be happy.

"We need to take responsibility for it. Everyone. We need to be braver, to show our character. It's there. We just need to show it."

Clarke-Harris had been shackled well by Michael Ihiekwe and Robertson until his run and unerring despatch.

Later in the game, he left the pitch to a standing ovation, having settled the contest with his sole attempt on goal.

Meanwhile, a parting shot from a present Miller was resonating just as much as the game-changing one from the Rotherham old boy.

"We need to find a way," said Lindsay. "And quick."

Bristol (3-5-2): Anssi Jaakkola; Tom Davies, Tony Craig, Alfie Kilgour; Alex Rodman (Rollin Menayese 90+3), Abu Ogogo, Ed Upson, Liam Sercombe, Luke Leahy; Jonson Clarke-Harris (Victor Adeboyejo 78), Tyler Smith (Tom Nichols 78). Subs not used: Jordi Van Stappershoef, Michael Kelly, Kyle Bennett, Cameron Hargreaves.

Rotherham (4-4-2): Daniel Iversen; Billy Jones (Matt Olosunde 63), Michael Ihiekwe, Clark Robertson, Joe Mattock; Ben Wiles (Sean MacDonald 76), Matt Crooks, Jamie Lindsay, Jake Hastie; Freddie Ladapo, Carlton Morris (Michael Smith 69). Subs not used: Lewis Price, Richard Wood, Daniel Barlaser, Julien Lamy.

Goal: Clarke-Harris 48 (Bristol).

Referee: Michael Salisbury (Preston).

Attendance: 7,321 (524).


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