The birthday boy, the forgetful missus and the marauding Millers finally do what they've been threatening all season ... the story of Rotherham United 4 Portsmouth 1

Michael Smith puts Rotherham in front in the first half. Pictures by Kerrie BeddowsMichael Smith puts Rotherham in front in the first half. Pictures by Kerrie Beddows
Michael Smith puts Rotherham in front in the first half. Pictures by Kerrie Beddows
A DAY after blowing away Portsmouth, Michael Smith was blowing out candles.

It was some weekend for the man-of-the-match striker who waved goodbye to his 20s by scoring twice to take his goal tally to ten in his last 11 games.

It was some weekend, too, for Rotherham United who did what they've been threatening to do all season: take a very good opposition side apart.

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The Millers have been creating and missing chances since opening day. On Saturday, in a thrilling eight-minute spell that left Pompey on their knees at AESSEAL New York Stadium, they couldn't stop taking them.

Big fish Smith turned 30 on the Sunday but was flying solo with 20-month-old daughter Poppy on his special day because partner Hannah had messed up her diary.

"The missus is working and I'm taking the little one to the aquarium in Hull," he said.

"My missus ... you know, she'll shoot me for saying this  ... does a bit of modelling and agency work and she's doing that tomorrow. She booked it in without knowing it was my birthday. She forgot the date."

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The frontman didn't mind. A double and a win against a former club whose supporters never rated him and who'd been baiting him from the kick-off at New York were the best present he could have wished for.

Richard Wood makes it 3-1 to the Millers

"It's mad," he said. "I loved my time down there. It didn't go to plan but I loved living down there. I had family there and was settled.

"The fans just didn't take to me for whatever reason. That's football. Their fans were giving me a bit today and it's always nice to give a bit back.

"It didn't work out for me with them. I don't know if that was down to inexperience. I'm a different person and a different player now."

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Pompey boss Danny Cowley described the Geordie as probably the best centre-forward in the division. Fifth-placed Rotherham have won their last four matches and are unbeaten in seven.

After opening the scoring in the first half at the away end, Smith stood in front of Portsmouth's 1,200-plus following with his hand cupped to his ear.

All of League One is listening.


Here comes Chiedozie Ogbene, here comes the blitz.

The flying winger, resting on the bench after international duty, entered proceedings in the second half when the score was 1-1. Nine minutes later, the Millers had four.

"It looked bordering on unfair to bring him on," said manager Paul Warne. "He looked like the best kid in the playground by a country mile."

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Until then, the Millers had been in a game. Even though it was the home team who led 1-0 at the break - Wes Harding's peach of a cross being headed in at the back post by Smith in the 29th minute - Pompey had looked the strongest side to visit New York so far.

"Portsmouth started in the ascendency," Warne said. "They are a really well-coached team. They were well organised and for the opening 20 minutes they were on top, without really creating anything.

"We went in at half-time in front and it maybe flattered us. We just told the lads to simplify things, to cross the ball if they got the chance because we have good strikers in the box."

Four minutes after the break, Smith's great pal, Dan Barlaser, caught the birthday mood and decided to hand out a gift.

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The midfielder is in superb form, but here he dawdled in possession out on the right when there was an easy clearance to be made and lost the ball to Ryan Tunnicliffe who set up Marcus Harness for a clinical low finish from just outside the area.

It was now that Warne's men stepped up. No more Pompey chimes, just rampant Rotherham - led by Smith, Ogbene and Ollie Rathbone and with everyone else making a contribution - sounding Portsmouth's death knell.

Rathbone tried his luck in the 55th minute, goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu fumbled and Smith converted the rebound at the third attempt with a back-heel as clever as it was cheeky.

Only five more minutes had gone when Richard Wood opened his account for the campaign with a 60th-minute header as Barlaser redeemed himself with a pinpoint delivery at a free-kick.

4-1, Ben Wiles

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Three minutes after that, Mickel Miller set up Ben Wiles and the midfielder claimed his fourth goal of the campaign with a sweet shot so well placed that the North Stand was erupting in celebration long before  it crossed the line.

"That's the difference if you take your chances," Warne said. "I always thought we were not far away from scoring a lot of goals. Today we took our chances really well and that is all that has been missing. Our performances have been excellent."

As Ogbene continued to destroy the visitor's left flank, the Millers could have added even further to the their lead through Miller, Wiles and Barlaser.

"Portsmouth's equaliser sort of stirred the hornets' nest," Warne said. "From there we just kicked in. The longer the game went on, the stronger we looked. We are blessed we have a good squad so our subs don't make us any weaker.

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"For 15 minutes or so we were as good as you can probably get."


The daddy of the division, his face lit up by a bashful smile, was waving to someone in the West Stand at the final whistle.

"That was Hannah," Smith said. "She was there with Poppy. I've bought Poppy a little Rotherham United jacket with a hood with bear ears on it. She loves it.

"She can recognise me on the pitch now, although she doesn't have a clue what's going on, obviously. She points and says 'Daddy'."

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His sole gripe on a near-perfect afternoon was being substituted in the 81st minute when he was chasing only the second hat-trick of his career.

"Yep, a bit fed-up," he said, not actually sounding very fed-up at all. "Maybe I shouldn't say that! To score a brace is really good but I would have loved that third goal."

Warne was playing pretend hardball when he was asked if he'd been a bit of a meanie.

"No,  definitely not," the boss said. "I quite enjoyed taking him off. He'd had 80 minutes to do it in. Unlucky."

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The boss could afford to be flippant. More and more, his side are looking like promotion contenders.

New York flamed as the Millers caught fire, the crowd revelling in what they were watching and cranking up the volume level to its highest of the season.

That second-half onslaught, those eight minutes of magic, the noise of the North Stand, Smith unplayable ...

Party on the kop for the birthday boy.

Rotherham (3-5-2): Viktor Johansson; Rarmani Edmonds-Green, Richard Wood, Michael Ihiekwe (Chiedozie Ogbene 54); Wes Harding, Ben Wiles, Dan Barlaser, Ollie Rathbone, Mickel Miller; Will Grigg (Freddie Ladapo 68), Michael Smith (Josh Kayode 81). Subs not used: Josh Vickers, Hakeem Odoffin, Kieran Sadlier, Shane Ferguson.

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Portsmouth (3-1-4-2): Gavin Bazuna; Kieron Freeman, Sean Raggett, Connor Ogilvie; Shaun Williams (Louis Thompson 73); Mahlon Romeo, Ryan Tunnifcliffe (Reeco Hackett 73), Joe Morrell, Lee Brown; Marcus Harness, John Marquis (George Hirst 70). Subs not used: Alex Bass, Gassan Ahadme, Michael Jacobs, Miguel Azeez.

Goals: Smith 29, 55, Wood 60, Wiles 63 (Rotherham); Harness 49 (Portsmouth).

Referee: Anthony Backhouse (Cumbria).

Attendance: 9,684 (1,242).