The huddle, Georgie's goal and the feeling at the end ... the story of Rotherham United 1 QPR 1

IN the seconds leading up to kick-off, the ground stood in silence. In the 70th minute, it exploded in noise.
Ollie Rathbone battles for possession. Picture: Jim BrailsfordOllie Rathbone battles for possession. Picture: Jim Brailsford
Ollie Rathbone battles for possession. Picture: Jim Brailsford

Georgie Kelly is capable of having that kind of effect.

The Last Post, played by a lone bugler, had been the only sound echoing around AESSEAL New York Stadium as Rotherham United and Queens Park Rangers lined up for a Remembrance Day fixture.

Just over an hour later, the Millers striker was taking the acclaim of a riotous North Stand who were cranking the volume level up to full.

Georgie Kelly strikes at the back post for Rotherham United against QPR at AESSEAL New York Stadium. Picture: Jim BrailsfordGeorgie Kelly strikes at the back post for Rotherham United against QPR at AESSEAL New York Stadium. Picture: Jim Brailsford
Georgie Kelly strikes at the back post for Rotherham United against QPR at AESSEAL New York Stadium. Picture: Jim Brailsford

Not for the first time, the Irishman who can't buy a Championship start had come off the bench to change a game.

He couldn't win it for the home side but at least his goal only nine minutes after taking off his tracksuit top had earned them a draw as they sought to right the wrongs of the Hillsborough derby six days earlier and breathe new life into their survival fight.

It was a great goal too, a crucial one. Defeat for the second match running against a team alongside the Millers in the drop zone didn't bear thinking about.

“Who gets the credit?” manager Matt Taylor was light-heartedly asked. “You for an inspired substitution or Georgie for doing what he did?”


“He has the credit, the player always has it,” the boss said. “I'll take responsibility when we are cr*p and get beaten. The players will have it in the good times and he certainly deserves it today.”


Rotherham's prospects had become even darker than the rain clouds pressing down on New York and adding to the gloom.Kelly had just come on to add to the options up front but had yet to have his moment.

With the Millers trailing and Saturday's deluge becoming ever heavier, Taylor gathered his players in a huddle at the side of the pitch during a lull in play and delivered a make-or-break address.

The match was on the line. In the build-up to it, the boss had said the same about his job.

“There were two aspects,” he said of the huddle. “There was the belief factor. We were still in the game. I told them not to lose any love for each other. Then there was the tactical aspect of how I wanted us to cover the space when we had two out-and-out centre-forwards out there.”

Five minutes later, his side were level.

QPR had arrived in S60 on the back of six straight losses but buoyed by the appointment of new boss Marti Cifuentes following the sacking of Gareth Ainsworth.

They had the game's best player in Ilias Chair who served notice of his danger by twice cutting inside from the left in the first half to fire not far wide.

Before the break, Christ Tiehi forced a scrambling save from Asmir Begovic, Hugill lashed wastefully over and failed to find Sam Clucas with a cross when he'd have been better off shooting while Fred Onyedinma brought a diving stop from the Hoops goalkeeper.

A player of Chair's talents wasn't about to miss for a third time and five minutes after the restart he sent a sumptuous curler arcing beyond Johansson into the far top corner.

“I thought the game lacked quality for the first hour. We had the better positions in the first half without the end product,” Taylor said.

The manager had dressed as if he was attending his own funeral: all in black, the only splash of a colour the vivid red of the poppy on his left sleeve being picked out by the floodlights.

Suddenly, more picking out was being done, this time by Cohen Bramall who found Kelly at the back post with a bending free-kick of vicious accuracy.

The centre-forward still had plenty to do. His eyes never left the ball and then all Millers eyes were on the back of the net as he sent a volley of perfect timing and precision speeding past Begovic.

Who knows how much that strike helped his boss's career prospects.

At 0-1, Johansson had deflected Elijah Dixon-Bonner's shot on to a post after soft defending from Clucas and, at the other end, Cafu glanced Bramall's cross wide. At 1-1, Hakeem Odoffin crashed a header from Cafu's corner against the woodwork. The Last Post. Neither side would hit the frame of the net again.

It was also Rotherham's last chance. They continued to press and had penalty appeals rejected when Sean Morrison was dragged down but were indebted to Johansson whose sharp reaction diverted Charlie Kenman’s added-time attempt

“The players have got fight,” Taylor said. “It wasn't easy, with the weight of the league position and what happened last week, to come back into the game. I'm really pleased with the character.”


Either side could have won it, either side could have lost it. Both are likely to linger in the bottom three for a while.

It was put to Taylor that it had been a match Rotherham couldn't afford to lose and he agreed. “Yes, even more so after last Sunday,” he said.

The mood at the end was strange. By then the Kelly elation had subsided. If there was anger, it was muted. If there was relief, it came with frustration and worry. It was sombre, like the occasion.

The manager spoke more about the goal: “It was a brilliant finish, and his impact will continue to grow because we will keep on using him when the game suits.”

Kelly's intervention had lifted everything. But on a day of remembrance what couldn't be forgotten was this was a match Rotherham really needed to win.

Rotherham (4-3-3): Viktor Johansson; Dexter Lembikisa, Sean Morrison (Daniel Ayala 87), Hakeem Odoffin, Cohen Bramall; Cafu, Christ Tiehi, Ollie Rathbone; Fred Onyedinma (Tom Eaves 87), Jordan Hugill, Sam Clucas (Georgie Kelly 61). Subs not used: Dillon Phillips, Seb Revan, Arvin Appiah, Sam Nombe, Ciaran McGuckin.

QPR (4-3-3): Asmir Begovic; Reggie Cannon (Osman Kakay, 90), Steve Cook, Jimmy Dunne, Kenneth Paall; Elijah Dixon-Bonner, Sam Field, Chris Willock (Sinclair Armstrong 80); Paul Smyth (Taylor Richards 63), Lyndon Dykes (Albert Adomah 80, Charlie Kelman 90), Ilias Chair. Subs not used: Jordan Archer, Ziyad Larkeche, Stephen Duke-McKenna, Aaron Drewe.

Goals: Kelly 70 (Rotherham); Chair 50 (QPR).

Referee: Sam Barrott (Halifax).

Attendance: 10,199 (1,175).

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