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RUST Ramblings 2nd October 2002 - Issue 13

Hi,

Welcome to another week's worth of gossip, rumours and opinions from a very happy and contented Rotherham fan.

First things first and our recent efforts on the pitch, one unlucky defeat and another one of those famous wins. I'll start with our game at Nottingham Forest and say how proud I was at being a Rotherham fan after such a fantastic second half display. If we only had that self-belief for a full ninety minutes we'd be assured of at least a play-off place.

Let's begin with the bad and the way we performed for the opening forty-five minutes. That first half performance was reminiscent of our calamitous defeat at the City Ground last season. Forest's young stars, as they had been billed before the game, totally out passed and outplayed us. Having said that, I was a bit upset at how easy we crumbled in defence. Although the second goal had a touch of good fortune about it, the third goal was disastrous. Mike Pollitt made another of those horrendous mistakes that continue to blight his otherwise fine performances. He should have easily been able to collect the cross that resulted in Johnson heading home at the far post. At three down, I really feared the worst; a cricket score appeared to be the most likely outcome. Then we manage to pull one back just on half time and instead of going into the dressing rooms completely out of it, we had hope.

What a marvellous second half our team of battlers produced, when Darren Byfield scored our second so early on, I really thought that we could achieve at least a draw. We certainly had enough chances to have gone on and actually won the game. Sedgwick was awesome and gave the highly rated Brennan a real roasting. A measure of just how much we dominated that second period came with the substitution of Johnson for another centre back. In the end we just failed to produce that elusive third goal but what a tremendous game. Both sets of supporters applauded both sets of players off the field. Our fans were superb and really got behind the team.

I listened to Paul Hart; the Forest manager being interviewed on radio Nottingham and he heaped loads of praise onto our team. He said that they wouldn't play a better side than the Millers all season and that we'd given them several new things to think about. If any of you can remember just how outplayed we'd been on our last trip to Forest this is praise indeed and shows just how far we've come. All we need now is that self-belief that we are a good team and the sky's the limit.

On the down side to our game at the weekend is our mounting injury list, with such a relatively small squad we might struggle to maintain our lofty league position. If ever there was time to invest in bringing in a couple of new players, surely it's now! There are loads of decent players looking for clubs at the moment, we have a great set of players, let's see one or two more shrewd Ronnie Moore acquisitions and we might just make the play-offs!


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RUST FANS FORUM
Thursday 28th November, Carlton Park Hotel, Moorgate, Rotherham.
DAVE NICHOLLS - Confirmed Guest

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On to Tuesday evening and our meeting with Wolves. What can I say that's not already been said in the media and on the various web sites? A fantastic game played between two teams both wanting desperately to win through to the next round of the Worthington Cup. It wasn't so much that we finally overcame our opponents but the manner in the way we achieved the result. Four first team regulars out through injury, a sixteen year old sitting on the bench, opponents with the likes of Ince and Irwin on their bench. Surely we couldn't hope to win this one?

For the opening thirty minutes, we were quite superb and deserved to be in front. Monkhouse was back to something like his best as he teased and tormented their defence, .Robins revelled in his first start for ages and the whole team appeared to be really up for it. A rather dubious looking penalty award changed all that and let Wolves back into the game. Indeed, things might have been much worse had the linesman not flagged for offside thus ruling out an effort from Newton right on the half time whistle. It was difficult to see from where I was sitting whether he got it right or not, although there didn't appear too much protesting from our opponents.

At half time, and drawing 1-1, I wondered if our make shift side could sustain the effort of the first half. When we fell behind, our defence in particular appeared to be tiring. At 3-1 down, I really thought that we would lose. It seems that most of our fans thought this as well. Indeed, my other half, making her annual visit to Millmoor, remarked on how quiet our supporters had become. Those three hundred or so Wolves fans never stopped cheering their side on, so why didn't we do the same. Add to this the amazing sight of several Rotherham fans leaving soon after their third goal went in, and bear in mind that there was still about a quarter of an hour to go and you just wonder what's going on. We all know what a lift it is to the team, when our supporters really rally behind them. We're tremendous away from home so why not at home? Saturday we play our biggest game of the season, against runaway leaders Pompey, let's make some noise.

Well back to last night and our remarkable fight back from 3-1 down to actually take the lead in extra time. Swailes' header was timed to perfection and Ritchie Barker was "Mister Cool" when rounding their keeper. Then came the massive anti-climax, just as we started to celebrate a famous win, Scotty decided that he was enjoying the evening so much, he'd prolong it! A finer half volley you couldn't have wished for, had it been at the other end. I've seen it at least six times on Sky TV this morning; they've made a huge thing out of it. I still can't quite believe it. He really buried it into the roof of the net! Credit must go to those fans on the Tivoli End, who immediately began singing his name. They were obviously aware of just how awful he must have felt. What a gesture, the fans almost redeemed themselves for being so quiet earlier on. Scotty was interviewed on the telly and claimed that that famous red mist descended on him, I think that he said this tongue in cheek and it was a clearance gone horribly wrong. So on to the penalty shoot out and once again drama. Robins missed the first one and we all felt that we were about to go out. Swailes, Hurst and Bryan all scored. Pollitt saved quite brilliantly from Irwin and Mullin had the "simple" task of scoring to put us through. Fantastic! One last word on the game, Marvin Bryan came on for Warne and played really well. He should keep his place for Saturday on this performance. He was one of the main reasons for our win that's my opinion.

All in all this was a most satisfactory performance, a great evening's entertainment and a brilliant result, especially with so many injuries. Those players that came in all did their job and should be proud of their contributions. Personally, I can't wait for the third round draw, I reckon that we are a match for anyone at Millmoor. Spurs at home would do nicely. I've some really good friends who are keen Tottenham supporters so it would really make my year if we played and beat them.

One final note about last night's game, where have all our supporters gone? Just over 5,000 attended Millmoor on a night when there were some quite generous reductions in admission. My wife and I paid just £12 each for our seats, not bad for such a great night out. Ronnie said in an interview that he was baffled as to the reasons for our poor attendances. We all know that the facilities could and should be better, but we have a team to be proud of and they are most certainly worth your support. Any ideas as to why we attract such low crowds?

Talking of possible signings, who was that well-known premiership player seen outside Millmoor just prior to last night's game?

Changing the subject, David Artell has gone on loan to Shrewsbury Town for a month. A good move this I feel for the player and Rotherham. He desperately needs first team match practice and has slipped way down the pecking order at Millmoor. A bit of a mystery this as he was one of our success stories a couple of seasons back. A spell on loan would probably suit one or two of the other fringe players such as Miranda and Hudson.

Ritchie Barker's return to the first team has reopened the debate as to whether he is good enough for division one. He has certainly had his critics of late and was recently linked with a move to either Carlisle or Hull. I have been saying for weeks that I don't believe that he's up to first division standard. In the last couple of matches he's made me eat my words to some degree. Two goals in two games can't be bad. His performance at Forest was particularly good and at the moment he certainly deserves his place. It'll be interesting to see who starts against Portsmouth, assuming Byfield, Sedgwick, McIntosh, Lee and Talbot are all fit. In my opinion, we have to play our best eleven, even if some of the team are upset. Lee should start alongside Byfield and Sedgwick and McIntosh should definitely play. What are your thoughts, on the Ritchie Barker debate and on the subject of our best two strikers? Mark Robins is a firm crowd favourite, but should he play instead of Byfield or Lee?

Finally for this week, whilst visiting the club shop last night, I managed to purchase a video of our game at Hillsborough in August. When I played the last bit and Darren Garner scored that spectacular winner in the last minute all those memories came flooding back. If you're stuck for what to buy someone as a present, and they have any interest in the Millers, this would make the ideal gift.

Just for those overseas Millers who keep on asking for stats, relating to who played and how they played, here's my ratings for last night's game:-

· Pollitt: A superb penalty save from Irwin inspired the team to go on and clinch our win. Rating 8.

· Hurst: Another competent display from him. A fine penalty scored with ease. Rating 8.

· Scott: Although his unbelievable volleyed own goal prolonged the evening's entertainment, a reasonable display. Rating 7

· Swailes: A good workmanlike performance, as always. Rating 7.

· Branston: Looked a bit ring rusty, lacked pace early on but improved as the night progressed. Rating 6.

· Mullin: Gave his usual inconsistent display, at times quite brilliant, at times anonymous. Rating 7.

· Garner: Did well in the first half, faded in the second, looked tired and rarely reached his usual heights. Rating 6.

· Warne: A good first half, faded completely in the second period. Possibly injured early on. Rating 6.

· Monkhouse: If only he could shoot, he'd be the complete player. Moments of sheer class but often tried to beat one player too many. Rating 7.

· Robins: Gave 100% all night, some superb touches but faded as the game wore on. Rating 7.
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· Barker: Another 100% performance, always difficult for the defence. Great goal scored under pressure. Rating 7.

· Bryan: Replaced Warne early in the second half, quite outstanding return to first team action. Might be that missing midfield link. Rating 9.

· Daws: Replaced Garner midway through second period. Helped to steady a tiring home midfield. Rating 7.

Well that's all for this week folks, keep on supporting the team, when have we ever had it so good.

Cheers for now,
Chris S


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