Scintillating start, Vassell off the mark and you can always rely on Woody ... the story of Shrewsbury Town 0 Rotherham United 4

Scintillating start, Vassell off the mark and you can always rely on Woody ... the story of Shrewsbury Town 0 Rotherham United 4

By Paul Davis | 13/08/2019

Scintillating start, Vassell off the mark and you can always rely on Woody ... the story of Shrewsbury Town 0 Rotherham United 4
The Millers take the lead. Picture by Jim Brailsford

THE journey to the game was long and wearing, the wait for goals short and joyful.

Rotherham United fans were on the road for well over two hours as they made their way to a supposedly regional tie in the first round of the Carabao Cup.

Their trip was well worth it before they'd even settled into their seats at Shrewsbury Town as the Millers effectively ended the contest with a two-goal burst inside the opening 120 seconds.

Matt Crooks struck with exactly a minute gone and the stadium clock had yet to hit two minutes when Kyle Vassell double their advantage.

Freddie Ladapo's close-range finish close to half-time simply added to Rotherham's superiority and Richard Wood added a late fourth. 

Of course he did. Wood always scores against the Shrews.

"We started okay," grinned manager Paul Warne, delighted to see his side respond so well to last Saturday's League One defeat against Lincoln City.

"The strikers pressed really high from the first whistle and gave the opposition defence no time."

Rotherham got off to a dream start as Vassell made the initial foray and Crooks was on hand to sweep home the loose ball after 60 seconds.

Less than a minute later, Vassell scored his first goal in Millers colours, with a shot which squirmed under home goalkeeper Joe Murphy.

It was the striker's first goal for the club, more than a year after his switch from Blackpool.

There was a price to pay as teammate Carlton Morris was injured in a clash of heads in the build-up and had to be substituted along with opponent Luke Waterfall after both had received lengthy treatment.

"I think Carlton is all right," said Warne. "He was like a baby calf when he came off. He didn't know what the score was when I asked him.

"His display was the best three minutes I've seen from a forward all season!

"I'm pleased to see Vass get his goal. I thought he and Matt (Olosunde) were our best players."

Blocks from Wood and Clark Robertson on shots from Brad Walker and Ryan Barnett respectively were the only real defensive contributions the Millers required in the opening period.

Michael Ihiekwe came close to a third as he rose highest at a 12th-minute corner only to head wide and Ladapo pounced from almost on the line on the stroke of half-time after Matt Olosunde's cross had been headed back by Michael Smith.

All of Rotherham's three-man starting frontline had played for Shrewsbury earlier in their careers and two of them were on the scoresheet against their former club.

The home crowd had a drum but it was Rotherham on a roll as they bossed proceedings and looked capable of threatening whenever they wanted to.

"A 4-0 win is good for confidence," Warne said. "The lads moved the ball well. Shaun MacDonald is a genius at keeping the ball. 

Soon after the break, Ladapo ran and shot, forcing a save from Murphy, and the Shrews keeper was tested again after the hour mark when his outstretched leg denied Smith.

At the other end, Lewis Price was glad of something to do as he held on to a long-distance effort from James Rowland, before Crooks blazed wide after yet another burst down the right by Olosunde.

The Millers were playing some slick, passing football and Wood, who famously won the 2018 League One Play-off Final for Rotherham against the Shrews, fired past Murphy from 12 yards in the 85th minute.

That's four goals in three games for the centre-half against Shrewsbury as he also bagged the winner at the New Meadow three months before his Wembley heroics.

"I think the world of Woody," Warne said. "His influence whenever we play Shrewsbury can't be over-emphasised! 

"I was really pleased with the back-four. To keep a clean sheet away from home is always good and I thought they were organised and effective."

There was just enough time left for Price to save at his near post from Fejiri Okenabirhie.

"We want our money back," sang the home supporters before they booed at the final whistle.

At the end of this northern tie, 164 intrepid, happy Millers fans headed for home. Back to Rotherham after midnight.

Putting in the distance after watching their team be better by miles.

Goals: Crooks 1 Vassell 2, Ladapo 45, Wood 85 (Rotherham).

Shrewsbury (4-4-2): Joe Murphy; Omar Beckles, Ethan Banks-Landell, Luke Waterfall (Aaron Pierre 6), Scott Golbourne (Shaun Whalley H-T); Ryan Barnett, James Rowland, Brad Walker, Luke McCormick; Fejiri Okenabihrie, Steve Morison (Ryan Giles 78). Subs not used: Max O'Leary, Romain Vincelot, Donald Love, Kian Taylor.

Rotherham (4-3-3): Lewis Price; Matt Olosunde, Michael Ihiekwe, Richard Wood, Clark Robertson; Ben Wiles (Jamie Lindsay 76), Dan Barlaser, Matt Crooks; Kyle Vassell, Freddie Ladapo (Shaun MacDonald 65), Carlton Morris (Michael Smith 6). Subs not used: Daniel Iversen, Joe Mattock, Jake Cooper, Jamie Proctor.

Referee: Anthony Backhouse (Cumbria).

Attendance: 2,830 (164).


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