Tired legs, the unused trialist and how record signing Freddie Ladapo will frustrate and thrill ... the story of Chesterfield 1 Rotherham United 2

Michael Smith scores from the spot. Pictures by Kerrie BeddowsMichael Smith scores from the spot. Pictures by Kerrie Beddows
Michael Smith scores from the spot. Pictures by Kerrie Beddows
IT took a long time for Paul Warne to have his say.

Rotherham United had beaten near-neighbours Chesterfield at the Proact Stadium, so that was good. And it was only a pre-season friendly, so the contest wasn't that important.

But Warne wasn't happy. Against National League opposition and with the onset of the real action only a fortnight away, the manager expected more from his League One squad.

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He kept his players in the dressing room for at least half an hour afterwards on Saturday to tell them just that.

"My lads were a little bit leggy. We weren't as sharp with the ball as I would have liked," he said.

"It was a really competitive game in a proper environment on a proper pitch. I thought Chesterfield were excellent."

The Millers led through an own goal, were pegged back by the home side and went in front again in a seven-minute burst in the first half. That was to be the end of the scoring - and the entertainment - in a contest lacking nothing in competitiveness but plenty in quality.

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Warne's men are knee-deep in the sweat of a punishing training schedule as they prepare for August 3 opening day at AFC Wimbledon and it showed.

"I hope today's performance is because we're giving them a hard pre-season and they're coming into games tired," Warne said. "It's either that or they're not good enough, and I don't think it's that.

"We did train them hard yesterday. We did batter them a little bit. It is still pre-season. It's about peaking in two weeks not today.

"They looked a bit sorry for themselves but they've come here and got a win. I thought, at times, our balls into the box deserved a few more goals."

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The game was 26 minutes old when Dan Barlaser crossed from the left and a swipe from the giant frame of Spireites defender Anthony Gerrard helped the ball into the net.

Four minutes later, Rotherham had chances to clear but the ball fell to Joe Rowley who brought a superb save from Lewis Price who was then powerless when the rebound was despatched in no uncertain terms by Will Evans.

Freddie Ladapo

Evans went from hero to villain in the 33rd minute as he felled Carlton Morris, allowing Michael Smith to coolly place the penalty in the bottom-left corner.

Record signing Freddie Ladapo impressed as he took the game to Chesterfield. Five times he jinked his way into shooting positions only to miss the target (mainly) or be denied by the goalkeeper (once).

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The £400,000 arrival sees the goal and nothing else, which isn't a bad trait for a striker to have. Balanced, sharp and tricky on the ball, he lacked only a composed finish. Ladapo is going to need half a dozen chances to score once. But he'll create those chances.

"I think the scoreline could have been a lot greater than it was," Warne said. "I can see where we're lacking a bit and we will try to enhance the squad over the next few days.

"I was massively disappointed with the goal we gave away. That's not how we play. But I thought we had a threat going forward. We've got some athletes in the team who can handle the ball. We were 10 per cent down on how sharp I want us to be."

After the break, Chesterfield's Jack McKay slipped his shot past substitute goalkeeper Laurence Bilboe and the post came to Rotherham's rescue while Kyle Vassell came off the bench to twice test the home team's sub shot-stopper, Luke Coddington.

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Maybe the player attracting the most attention was one of only two Millers who didn't actually feature in the game.

Winger Brad Dockerty has been plucked from non-league football and given a chance to earn a contract so 626 away fans were desperate for a glimpse of him.

Warne planned to introduce the 22-year-old in the second half but held him back when the visitors failed to take the game out of Chesterfield's reach.

Match action

For the fifth friendly in a row, Rotherham lined up in a 4-3-3 formation and they will begin their League One campaign with that system unless further recruitment see the boss decide on a different set-up.

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"As I stand here now, I will be going into the season playing that way," Warne confirmed. "If I sign players who can play in different positions, then possibly I'll change it.

"Our forward six are pretty frightening, but we were a little open at times, which I wasn't best pleased with.

"I need to watch the game back. I am asking the defenders to defend one v one this year. They have a lot more responsibility in that area."

Match won, the Millers move on.

Eventually, the manager emerged from the dressing room having said what he needed to.

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The players dragged their weary bodies away from the Proact knowing there would be other days for them to do their talking.

Goals: Gerrard og 26, Smith pen 33 (Rotherham); Evans 30 (Chesterfield).

Chesterfield (3-5-2): Jalal (Coddington H-T); Hollis, Evans, Gerrard (Wedgbury 75); Smith (Yarney H-T), Buchanan (Sharman 75), Maguire (Shaw 75), Weston (Weir, H-T), Rowley (McKay 61); Boden (Wakefield 75), Mandeville (Sheridan 75).

Rotherham (4-3-3): Bilboe (H-T); Jones, Ihiekwe, Wood, Mattock (Robertson 63); Wiles (Crooks 63), MacDonald (Olosunde 72), Barlaser; Morris (Vassell 72), Ladapo, Kayode 80), Smith (Proctor 63). Subs not used: Hinds, Dockerty.

Attendance: 1,675 (626).


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