*That* goal, the mounting injuries and the disputed five minutes ... the story of Sunderland 2 Rotherham United 1

Christ Tiehi makes an encouraging debut for Rotherham United at Sunderland. Pictures: Jim BrailsfordChrist Tiehi makes an encouraging debut for Rotherham United at Sunderland. Pictures: Jim Brailsford
Christ Tiehi makes an encouraging debut for Rotherham United at Sunderland. Pictures: Jim Brailsford
Manager Matt Taylor was in hot water again.

MATT Taylor put his hands to his head in disbelief as the illuminated board was held aloft on the touchline.

Only five added minutes? In this age of new rules to curb time-wasting, only five minutes? Just when Rotherham United needed longer to chase an equaliser, only five minutes?

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The Rotherham United manager wasn't a happy man and talked himself into trouble with the referee at the close of a contest between clubs who had kicked off still looking for their first wins of the Championship campaign.

“It's surreal when there were, I think, six stoppages for substitutions and a time when a player was down injured for a couple of minutes,” he complained.

If officialdom was vexing him again on Saturday after the well-publicised events of a week earlier, so was the growing casualty list. Two more players had joined the walking wounded before the game, another had to limp off during it and once again the Millers couldn't name a full complement of substitutes.

Rotherham's threat is being drained by their injuries and when Taylor looked to his depleted bench in a bid to turn the match back in his side's favour he didn't see enough there.

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“We just didn't quite have the quality on the pitch towards the end of the game,” the boss said. “You felt that if we could sustain some pressure towards the end then Sunderland would become a little bit nervy. It wasn't quite to be.”


“Ole, ole, ole, ole.” Suddenly the ‘ole’ became ‘Ollie’ and a couple of seconds later the Millers were in front.

Millers fans gathered high, high up in the sky were providing the soundtrack to the move of the match when the ball came to Rathbone who provided the final delivery for Hakeem Odoffin to score for the second successive game.

Seventeen passes had been played up, down and across the Stadium of Light before the midfielder struck in the 20th minute with his customary venom, flashing the ball - hard and low, as he practises daily in training - past Anthony Patterson into the net.

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“They fight, they're big, they're strong, they get the ball forward early,” said Sunderland boss Mowbray. Not on this occasion, Tony.

“It was one of the best goals I've seen us score in terms of pass and move and being aggressive with it," said Taylor. “As the game progressed, that didn't happen enough.”

More than 40,000 fans were packed into the home of the Black Cats. The size of the crowd can be Sunderland's biggest help but their biggest hindrance and the Millers needed to allow the murmurs of discontent to spread by hanging on to their lead.

New boy Andre Green tests the Black Cats

Instead, they gifted Jobe Bellingham - the 17-year-old brother of England star Jude - a leveller two minutes later.

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Cohen Bramall gave Dan Neil the freedom of Wearside at the back post to nod Jack Clarke's delivery across goal to where his young teammate was waiting to head in.

Cameron Humphreys was just as accommodating for the teenager's second, playing a loose ball out of defence that was hoovered up before finding its way to the scorer who produced a pinpoint finish.

“Both of Sunderland's goals were a bit too easy for them, especially the first one when we'd just gone ahead,” said Taylor. “It was a moment we needed to see out better than we did. We know what this atmosphere would have been like had we stayed in front for a bit longer.”

Having done well in the first half, the Millers sagged and did little in the second.

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Bellingham fluffed his connection when a hat-trick seemed inevitable, Humphreys redeemed himself with a goal-saving block on the youngster and other Sunderland sights of goal went begging.

Christ Tiehi showed he will strengthen the side and there were flashes of excellence but nothing too sustained from fellow debutant Green.

When the latter escaped his marker while driving down the left and supplied the cross the unmarked Jordan Hugill had to do better than direct a benign header nowhere.

There was no Ben Wiles, no Georgie Kelly, both of whom had pulled up lame during the week. Odoffin lasted only 29 minutes until he had to depart proceedings.

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The visitors were also without Grant Hall, Lee Peltier, Jamie Lindsay and Shane Ferguson, all men of experience with legitimate shouts for a starting role when fit, and the suspended Fred Onyedinma.

With each substitution, Rotherham grew weaker.

“Some of the players are playing on empty and some aren't quite where they need to be in terms of the level," said Taylor. “That's where the squad is right now.”


Taylor was so keen to express his anger about the timekeeping that he made sure the media questioned him about it by bringing up the subject himself.

Seven minutes at Stoke City on opening day ... nine minutes at home to Blackburn Rovers seven days later ... now five.

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Taylor made his gesture of incredulity before stoppage time began and then after it was booked for making his feelings too forcibly known to the officials.

The manager feels the division’s smallest club is being persecuted.

“I go across to the referee and ask a sensible question because the fourth official said it was the referee's timekeeping,” he said. “Then I'm told it was the fourth official's timekeeping.

“Only five minutes for that second half is incredible. But ... Rotherham again.”

He had a point.

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The sobering reality, though, was that no matter how much more time had been added the Millers weren't going to score again.

Sunderland (4-2-3-1): Anthony Patterson; Trai Hume, Daniel Ballard, Luke O'Nien, Dennis Cirkin; Dan Neil, Pierre Ekwah; Patick Roberts (Alex Pritchard 77), Jobe Bellingham (Luis Hemir 85), Jack Clarke; Bradley Dack (Lynden Gooch 85). Subs not used: Nathan Bishop, Niall Huggins, Danny Batth, Abdoullah Ba, Jewison Bennette, NexariosTriantis

Rotherham (4-3-3): Viktor Johansson; Dexter Lembikisa, Cameron Humphreys, Tyler Blackett, Cohen Bramall; Hakeem Odoffin (Ciaran McGuckin 29), Christ Tiehi (Tolaji Bola 76), Cafu; Ollie Rathbone, Jordan Hugill (Tom Eaves 67), Andre Green ( Josh Kayode 67). Subs not used: Dillon Phillips, Sean Morrison, Jamie McCart, Josh Ayres.

Goals: Odoffin 20 (Rotherham); Bellingham 22, 52 (Sunderland).

Referee: Gavin Ward (Surrey).

Attendance: 40,688 (814).

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