That goal, that display, that victory ... the story of Rotherham United 2 Norwich City 1

There was much to admire about the Millers at AESSEAL New York Stadium.
Deadly Dexter ... what a strike from Lembikisa to open the scoring for Rotherham United against Norwich City. Pictures: Jim BrailsfordDeadly Dexter ... what a strike from Lembikisa to open the scoring for Rotherham United against Norwich City. Pictures: Jim Brailsford
Deadly Dexter ... what a strike from Lembikisa to open the scoring for Rotherham United against Norwich City. Pictures: Jim Brailsford

"IS this a library?" questioned the travelling fans in the early stages of a contest that had yet to catch fire.

They had no idea what was to come.

The home stands were packed but relatively quiet as Rotherham United kicked off in search of their first victory of the Championship campaign against a Norwich City side that had yet to taste defeat.

Suddenly, the afternoon erupted. The Millers took the lead. Delirium. They scored again before the break. Bedlam. Matt Taylor's men at their best, AESSEAL New York Stadium at its finest.

Rotherham were roared on throughout the second half and by the end they were still in front. The scenes then ... well, we'll get to them later, but let's just say that any celebrations led by Viktor Johansson tend to turn into a bit of a party.

This was no fluke success against opponents among the favourites for promotion. Under Taylor, the Millers are changing, in personnel, style and attitude. To go with their Championship status, they're developing a Championship mindset.

They played the Canaries at their own free-flowing game, matched them for skill, beat them for intensity and deservedly came out on top.

"One of the best aspects today was the belief of the players," said the manager. "The players have to keep believing, even if the opposition score or go ahead, that they're good enough to compete and good enough to get something out of these matches.

"The win is the shot in the arm they needed. I've been trying to put it into them with words but nothing speaks louder than three points."


There was a Gunn and there was a bullet and the bullet came out on top.

Fred Onyedinma had already hit the post on Saturday when, in the 22nd minute, he nodded Tyler Blackett's long throw into the path of Dexter Lembikisa who pulled the trigger from the edge of the box.

The high-velocity volley was fired so perfectly that goalkeeper Angus Gunn didn't stand a chance as it screamed into the net.

It was a first goal in senior football for the loan teenager who is fast becoming a cult figure among Millers supporters and in all likelihood he will never score a better one.

Somebody in the Norwich end had been continually banging a drum. Now, Rotherham were constantly banging on Norwich's door, taking a grip of midfield and making darting inroads down both flanks.

Five minutes before the break, Ollie Rathbone and Lembiksa combined to create space and when the ball came over Jordan Hugill neatly glanced it beyond Gunn into the far corner.

New York was a riot; anything but a library, although Cafu was busy writing yet another page in his book of assists as it was his pinpoint delivery from the right that had set up his teammate to score against his former club.

"We got the goals, which always makes it a better performance," said Taylor. "When you're playing well you need something to show for it. We put a top-quality team under pressure.

"As the game progresses, you know there's going to be a reaction from the opposition. We weren't comfortable by any means but we saw out the game."

The one thing the Millers didn't want to do was concede early in the second so the one thing they did was concede early in the second half.

On 50 minutes, Jonathan Rowe's wriggling run ended in a low cross that Christian Fassnacht poked home and only a firm hand from Johansson prevented Jack Stacey sneaking in an equaliser at the near post.

2-0 to Rotherham as Norwich old boy Jordan Hugill hurts his old side

However, as Norwich pressed, they left gaps at the back for the home team to exploit. Cafu curled a shot just off target after more damaging work from Rathbone and the latter might have had a goal to mark his 100th appearance had Hugill not messed up his attempted pass when the pair went charging behind enemy lines.

The Canaries came again but Rotherham had a keeper who came again and again. Any entry into the box was claimed either by Johansson or the defenders in front of him.

Smooth first-half attacking supremacy had been replaced by controlled second-half defensive obduracy and it was a combination that led to victory in the final match before a two-week lull in action.

"It's been coming," said Taylor, referencing recent close calls as a mark of his side's progression. "For 50 minutes against Blackburn Rovers (2-2 draw) we felt comfortable and were in a winnable position. We were more than a match for Leicester City (2-1 loss). That game could have gone either way.

"It's a great way to go into the international break. I said before the game to the squad: 'We're at a little bit of a crossroads, waiting for a first win to give us more belief. Don't wait for it, go and make it happen.' I thought the players did that today."


"You've seen how raw he is. We'll love him but he'll frustrate us."

Taylor was reviewing the second-half impact of recording signing Sam Nombe whose debut from the bench revealed that a £1-million-plus fee has bought muscle, pace, hunger and a whole lot of rough edges.

"He'll get better," the boss continued. "It was a hard game to come into but he showed enough of his physicality and speed and will.

"I liked his partnership with Jordan, and then with Tom (substitute Eaves) to a certain extent. That's something we can start to build on and it gives me the option of going to two up front as and when needed."

Debutant Sam Nombe

Nombe was laughing with everyone else at the final whistle when the mad Swede, Johansson, went dancing across the East and North Stands, choreographing the joy and putting fans in an even bigger flap than the towel he was dragging along with him.

Those events were in sharp contrast to the muted wake at the other end of the pitch where the fallen Norwich players were meekly acknowledging the away support.

Last off the pitch was Cohen Bramall. He had been, too, a week earlier when he'd stayed out to apologise for his part in a Leicester goal but there was nothing to be sorry about this time.

He'd played so well; they all had. It had been a performance brimming with Championship promise.

That Canaries chant seemed so long ago. But maybe there'd been some truth in it. One thing about libraries, you find happy endings in them.

Rotherham (4-3-3): Viktor Johansson; Dexter Lembikisa, Cameron Humphreys, Tyler Blackett, Cohen Bramall; Cafu, Christ Tiehi, Ollie Rathbone; Andre Green (Sam Nombe 64), Jordan Hugill (Tom Eaves 83), Fred Onyedinma. Subs not used: Dillon Phillips, Sean Morrison, Hamish Douglas, Tolaji Bola, Arvin Appiah, Ciaran McGuckin.

Norwich (4-2-3-1): Angus Gunn; Jack Stacey, Shane Duffy, Ben Gibson, Dimitris Giannoulis (Sam McCallum 77); Gabriel Sara, Kenny McLean; Christian Fassnacht (Tony Springett 77), Ashley Barnes, Jonathan Rowe (Przemyslaw Placheta 64); Adam Idah (Liam Gibbs 77). Subs not used: George Long, Jon McCracken, Marcelino Nunez, Kellen Fisher, Jaden Warner.

Goals: Lembikisa 22, Hugill 40 (Rotherham); Fassnacht 50 (Norwich).

Referee: Sam Barrott (West Yorkshire).

Attendance: 11,066 (2,212).