After six years to the day, the Millers finally win in the FA Cup again. The red, the rain, the response ... the story of Maidenhead United 1 Rotherham United 3

Freddie Ladapo celebrates his goal. Pictured by Jim BrailsfordFreddie Ladapo celebrates his goal. Pictured by Jim Brailsford
Freddie Ladapo celebrates his goal. Pictured by Jim Brailsford
A FIGURE with a brush was sweeping out the away dressing room.

Player-performance manager Ross Burbeary was attacking the task with the same gusto Rotherham United had shown in their FA Cup comeback.

A pile of mud, dropped food, discarded tape and assorted debris was mounting, just like Millers chances had after the break at non-league Maidenhead United.

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Burbeary was a man happy in his work, Rotherham a club happy to have progressed to the second round.

Paul Warne's League One side had just come through a test of character against part-time opposition 53 places below them in the EFL pyramid.

They had fallen behind in the first half at rain-lashed York Road and the Millers don't have a good record in the competition. For a spell there had been the scent of an upset in the biting Berkshire air.

Then you heard the clatter and felt the thud as Ben Wiles hit the advertising hoardings in the 55th minute.

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A straight red card was a straightforward decision for the referee after Magpies captain Alan Massey, a tree surgeon in his other life, had taken a chainsaw to the young Rotherham midfielder close to the touchline.

Ben Wiles in action at Maidenhead

From that moment, the result was never in doubt, and goals from Michael Ihiekwe, Freddie Ladapo and Matt Crooks brought the Millers' their fourth straight away triumph and their sixth victory in their last eight games.

"The sending-off was a turning point," Warne said. "I thought prior to that we were on top, though.

"With all due respect, I don't think my keeper made a save all day. They took their one chance really well. It was poor from us how we gave the ball away. They cut us open and scored.

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"I always thought we were on top. I didn't like the idea of them having ten men. When ten men are holding on to a lead, it sort of makes them more gladiatorial.

"But, at the end of the day, the sending-off did pay dividends for us. We had fitter, stronger lads at the end."

It was Warne's first FA Cup success in four attempts as a manager.

And it came six years to the day since the club last won a tie in this tournament, when the boss was fitness coach, 3-0 at home to Bradford City on November 9 2013.


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Rotherham were taking the game seriously. Ten days beforehand, assistant manager Richie Barker had made the seven-hour round trip to Maidenhead on a Tuesday night to watch the Magpies in National League action against Fylde.

The non-leaguers took a 25th-minute lead through former Wolverhampton Wanderers attacker Jake Cassidy's clever skill and finish and, with Morris failing to beat goalkeeper Chris Dunn as the net gaped in the 44th minute, the home team still had the advantage at the interval.

"It was tough," Warne said. "We didn't expect anything less. We had done our due diligence on them. We did all the work on them we possibly could and showed them full respect.

"I played non-league until I was 23 before turning pro so I knew how hard it was going to be."

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Burbeary, meanwhile, revealed that Rotherham clean their changing room after every away game, another example of the standards, discipline and focus that are constants of Warne's reign.

Discipline and focus were also key ingredients of the second-half response after the boss had delivered a 'Don't panic' half-time message to his players.

The substitutions also helped.

Matt Crooks scores

Centre-half Adam Thompson had replaced the injured Richard Wood in the 37th minute to make an assured debut while second-half attacking replacements striker Ladapo and winger Jake Hastie helped Rotherham end the contest in a nine-minute blitz.

Following Massey's dismissal, Ladapo, after a month on the sidelines, set up Ihiekwe to steer in the equaliser. Then the sub caused mayhem with a searing run before despatching a sweet, fizzing shot past Dunn.

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Hastie spent the last half an hour picking his way through puddles and past opponents and set up Crooks for the tie-clinching third.

"I thought Thommo on his debut was excellent," Warne said. "He gave us real control on the ball. Freddie got a goal out of nothing. We know he can do that. It's good for Freddie. It gives him a massive confidence boost."

Other opportunities went begging for Ladapo, Wiles and Morris, three times, as midfielder Dan Barlaser earned his manager's praise for his probing, pulling of strings and range of passing.

Pinging in the rain.

"My two outstanding performers were Wilesy and Dan," Warne reckoned. "They were excellent on the ball. They had old heads on young shoulders. I was really pleased with them.

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"We had to move the ball quickly and when we did that we created enough chances to win the game comfortably."


Having staged its first match in 1871, York Road is the world's oldest football ground in continual use by the same club.

It's homely and atmospheric but, with its corrugated roofing and five-step terracing at the mercy of the elements, also shows its age.

Carlton Morris on the run

Umbrellas and gloves were in continual use on Saturday and Rotherham supporters, suffering in the elements for the second away day in succession after Gillingham, deserved the warming properties of their side's fightback.

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"Crooksy, Crooksy, give us a wave," they chanted near the final whistle and top scorer Crooks, with seven goals in his last seven matches and eight for the season, duly obliged.

After the earlier tension, It had become that kind of occasion.

"Sport is all about confidence and psychology," said Warne. "Maidenhead scoring first puts more pressure on us. The longer the game goes on, the more the pressure builds.

"Understandably, they start taking a long time at goal-kicks and throw-ins and we get a little bit more frustrated.

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"At half-time, we said to the lads: 'Look, don't get frustrated, don't chase the clock. Keep playing and you'll get chances to get back in it. Icky got us a goal and from there it was plain sailing really."

The Millers held their nerve, in conditions that suited the opposition more than them, to come through an awkward afternoon. There were first-round shocks but they weren't one of them. Job done.

Burbeary, his job done too, hung up his brush and headed for the team bus, leaving in the heap of rubbish he'd swept neatly into a corner a symbol of what Rotherham had avoided.

A banana skin.

Maidenhead (4-5-1): Chris Dunn; Seth Twumasi, Joe Ellul, Alan Massey, Rene Steer; Ryheem Sheckleford, Ryan Upward, James Comley, Josh Smile (Danny Whitehall 79), Josh Kelly (Aron Davies 58); Jake Cassidy. Subs not used: Bradley Keetch, Bernard Mensah, Ibra Sekajja, Jaden Brissett.

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Rotherham (4-4-1-1): Daniel Iversen; Matt Olosunde (Jake Hastie 62), Michael Ihiekwe, Richard Wood (Adam Thompson 37), Billy Jones; Chiedozie Ogbene, Daniel Barlaser, Ben Wiles, Carlton Morris; Matt Crooks; Michael Smith (Freddie Ladapo 53). Subs not used: Lewis Price, Jake Cooper, Akeem Hinds, Julien Lamy.

Goals: Cassidy 25 (Maidenhead); Ihiekwe 69, Ladapo 75, Crooks 78 (Rotherham).

Referee: Ollie Yates (Staffordshire).

Attendance: 1,924.