Posted by chris_saxon on January 20 2008 19:45:19
I’m still wondering what happened during the interval after an awful second half display almost cost us all the points and maybe cost us a great deal more in returning support!
On a day full of sentiment and no little emotion our promotion credentials were tested to the full by a Wycombe side that will surely figure in the end of season shake up for elevation to Division One.
Before the start of the game, it was almost like old times at Millmoor, a much bigger than normal crowd, an electric atmosphere and an air of anticipation not witnessed since those heady days of back to back promotions. Even the weather decided to join in with temperatures more in keeping with a spring afternoon and yes it stayed dry!
Prior to the start of the match, we were encouraged to hold up “United Rotherham” placards donated by the Advertiser to show support for Council involvement in the building of a new community stadium and the board of Directors marched across the pitch in a show of solidarity. There was even a Mexican wave as a carnival atmosphere prevailed.
It seemed that their call for a full house had been heeded as all the home support areas looked pretty full. Unfortunately, opponents Wycombe are hardly the best-supported club in the division and less than 300 of them had bothered to attend leaving lots of empty seats in their bit of the Railway End.
Of course, we’ve all been here before, big crowd, big occasion etc, etc, being the sceptic that I am I wondered if the team would manage to live up to the occasion or fail to deliver as is usually the case.
Early on opponents Wycombe appeared to accept that their part was but a minor one and offered little as we swept forward in that now customary 4-4-3 formation.
Those expectant fans, many I suspect lapsed Millers of yesteryear, were soon rewarded for their backing as young Stephen Brogan put us in front in Beckhamesque fashion with a marvellous free-kick from some 25 yards out with the keeper rooted to the spot. Less than fifteen minutes gone and we were winning, how the crowd loved it.
That was the signal for a period of sustained home pressure and for a full thirty minutes our opponents seemed to be there merely to make up the numbers. Taylor was having one of those games where he harried and turned the opposition with ease and a second goal was surely just a matter of time.
Big Derek Holmes, last week’s hero, crashed a header point blank against an upright, how did he miss that one and instead of going in at the break two or three goals up we led by that solitary Brogan shot.
Second half began and we were kicking towards the Tivoli. We don’t seem to score that many goals in that end and I wondered if the Tivoli curse would once more rear its head?
Gaps began to appear between midfield and the forwards and Wycombe’s midfield just got stronger and stronger. We were being outnumbered in that crucial area and everyone in the ground knew it with one or two notable and crucial exceptions.
We needed to change our formation. In an effort to perusade the management, that man Scot McGleish, who always seems to score against us, somehow got around Joseph who in my opinion was our weak link and from a long way out his cross found the back of the net, catching Warrington by surprise and we were level.
An air of fear descended upon Millmoor as Wycombe piled forward now totally commanding in the middle. Torres, not the one that plays for Liverpool but a player of some ability nonetheless (is he related?) waltzed around our defence and only some desperate stuff prevented us going behind. Our 4-3-3 formation was clearly not working and we needed to change it.
Ross took off his tracksuit and a substitution looked imminent. Then for some unknown reason, he sat down again and the team remained unchanged and with it any chance of a Rotherham win had disappeared.
Leon Knight, remember him, came on to mesmerise our flagging team and I wondered if he’d come on a bit sooner would we have held on?
A point gained then rather than two lost. Mark Robins has proved over and over again that he’s not afraid to change the formation, if required, but for some reason he failed to see the need to do so today.
I hope that some if not all those extra fans return for our next fixture at Millmoor. Alas, I fear that our second half display may be a deciding factor though I urge the people of the town to give the team a few games before making any long-term judgement.
Once again, we lacked that cutting edge and another experienced striker ought to be a priority if we are to gain automatic promotion this time around. Without such an investment I fear that they play-offs are our destiny.
Having said all that, here we are at the end of January and sitting in second place, any self respecting Miller would surely have taken that at the start of this season.
If this is the beginning of the road to a new community stadium then today will be remembered for what happened off the pitch rather than the result and might yet prove to be that defining moment in the club’s history.