Saturday, 26 January 2013

Rotherham United 1 v Bristol Rovers 3 - npower League 2 (Division 4)

The New York Stadium, may seem like an odd sounding moniker for the Millers 12,000 capacity stadium, given that Rotherham town centre is hardly up-town Manhattan (though it can resemble the Bronx most weekends at around closing time). However, the rationale and reasoning behind the new(ish) ground's name is ... next door to the recently built stadium, stands the Guest and Chrimes factory site, a company that is  famous for its steelwork, who created the first of the iconic New York fire hydrants, that were exported from South Yorkshire, to the US of A.
Hello and welcome, to everybody who typed the words 'pictures of cocks'
into their search engine ... It takes all sorts, don't be embarrassed.
As a consequence, that area of Rotherham was, so legend as it, nicknamed 'New York' by the town's inhabitants.
New York, New York, so good they named it twice n' all that.
But, some (in actual fact, a lot of) locals, say it was just called Don Street and named after the nearby river.
But lets not allow mardy bummed cynicism get in the way of such a romantic tale.
Rotherham United have, of course, been playing at the Don Valley Stadium since their enforced move out of Millmoor in May 2008.
The former is, not to put too fine a point on it, a nice athletics stadium facility, but it's completely crap for watching football at.
While the latter, which, like the New York Stadium, stands in the centre of Rotherham, was always one of my favourite away grounds.
Ironically, while on the subject of local industrial history; the Don Valley Stadium itself, stands close to the site of the Forge-masters Steelworks plant in Sheffield, which is even more famous for it's export production output.
But hey! I'm sure that everybody involved in that episode would be grateful, if I didn't mention the illegal arms trade, or the Iran-Iraq war at this juncture and would prefer it if that particular 'unfortunate' misunderstanding was swept back under the carpet instead.
It really does make a nice change, for a new stadium not to be built on the outskirts of a town, miles from the train station and transport links, local population and public houses.
And Rotherham United deserve all of the plaudits they get, for their choice of location.
Post match view taken from outside Millmoor
Saturday 26th January 2013, at the New York Stadium
npower League 2
Rotherham United  (0) 1
David Noble 73
Bristol Rovers  (1) 3
Lee Brown 42 pen, 
Ellis Harrison 52,
Joe Anyinsah 61
Admission £18, Programme £3, 
Attendance: 6,582 (inc. 418 Bristol Rovers fans)
Thankfully, the pre match entertainment, in the form of a bagpipe band, took place at the opposite end of the ground to us and we could barely hear them.
Rotherham United:
Andy Warrington, Dale Tonge, Johnny Mullins, Claude Davis, Liam Ridehalgh, Ben Pringle, Kari Arnason, Lee Frecklington (David Noble, 72), Michael O’Connor, Alex Revell (Kayode Odejayi, 60), Daniel Nardiello (Courtney Cameron, 46)
Unused Substitutes - Tony Thompson, Adam Morgan, Kieran Agard, Daniel Kearns
Bristol Rovers:
Steve Mildenhall, Michael Smith, Mark McChrystal, Tom Parkes, Lee Brown, John-Joe O’Toole, Seanan Clucas, Ollie Norburn, Joe Anyinsah (David Clarkson, 72), Ryan Brunt (Danny Woodards, 82), Eliot Richards (Ellis Harrison, 50)
Unused Substitutes - Conor Gough, Fabian Broghammer, Tom Hitchcock, Clayton McDonald.
So here I finally am, after several false starts, my first visit to watch a football match at the New York Stadium.
Pre season, I missed the Rotherham v Hearts game, that I had every intention of being present at, because my employer was offering silly money to anybody who was available to work that day.
That one 'greedy' action, now means my 2013 holiday is booked and paid for, while my already healthy games attended total for 2012-13, is minus one non competitive warm up game in July.
I reckon my conscience can deal with it.
And I'm fairly confident that I will reach my new target figure of 120 games by the end of the season.
My first impression of the new arena, was a very positive one.
Maybe to combat one match day element that is somewhat lacking, the Millers fans could organise themselves a section of the ground where their younger, boisterous element could gather to create a bit more of an atmosphere (today the visiting fans taunted them with "Ooh -arr, it's a library!"), but I'm sure that will come in time, once territorial preferences have been established.
The pavements and subways on the approaches to the New York Stadium were treacherous this afternoon, but that wasn't the fault of the football club ... and Rotherham council isn't the only local authority who don't care about such things.
This afternoon's result, was one that those who belong the betting fraternity, would refer to, as a coupon buster. 
Promotion chasing Rotherham United v 92nd in the whole league, Bristol Rovers.
It had home banker stamped all over it.
But that is why football is such a great game ... it is never 100% predictable.
And while the 1-3 away victory, could hardly be described as a giant killing, or shock result, given the comparative status of both clubs, it certainly wasn't on the cards, as the two sides took to the field of play.
In today's match programme, Rotherham's ever popular manager Steve Evans, wrote about how costly individual errors had been, in his sides recent defeats against two other sides from the bottom six of the npower League 2 table.
After today's reversal, he trotted out the same line again.
However, from my vantage point (all the sight lines in the New York Stadium are excellent), I would suggest that one person in particular, deserved more than any other, the accolade of the being outed as the biggest 'erroneous individual' culprit in the Millers downfall ... and that was Evans himself.
For Sure, the visitors deserved all three points today and it would be wrong, very wrong even, to take that away from them. 
But time after time, the Millers high balls, from open play and set pieces alike, were plucked out of the sky with ease, or punched to safety by the Rovers keeper Steve Mildenhall. As United's game plan lacked any serious penetration in the final third.
The 'Pirates' won fair and square, but the Millers contributed to their own downfall along the way too. The home side weren't actually playing hit and hope long ball stuff, but the kind of crosses they were providing for their forwards, were creating very little, or no real kind of threat for the majority of the afternoon and a large percentage of the home side's possession was wasted in the final third.
Again, credit where it is due, the visitors defended well and their keeper had an assured presence about him, but when a system isn't working, then it is up to the manager to sort things out. 
Evans didn't.
I'm not jumping on the bandwagon of popular opinion, by criticising the Rotherham manager, because I've met the guy and found him to be a complete contradiction of his pantomime baddie persona.
He was actually very unassuming, down to earth and amusing, without even a slight hint of the air of arrogance, that his critics claim he's supposed to have.
But this afternoon, well ... it spoke volumes for his teams performance and handling of the worsening situation, that when the away fans chanted "Steve Evans is a w@nker!", the Millers season ticket holders in the family stand stood up and applauded them.
A lot of money has been invested in Rotherham United, both on and off the pitch.
Possibly their current malaise is just temporary, but they seem to be falling some way short, of living up to all of their pre season hype and expectation.
Of course, with this being a (much) bigger stage than the majority of grounds/roped off pitches and bleak wind ravaged fields, that I've visited this season, there are plenty of full match reports available all over the national and local media, club websites and various other internet sources, that will get down to the nitty gritty and finite details of the game, far better than I ever could hope to, so I didn't scribble copious amounts of notes down today.
Never the less I will recall the salient points, mostly from memory, so forgive me if a few names and credits aren't overly accurate.
I try my best, but know there is always room for improvement and that I could do a lot better.
Rotherham started the game in a lively fashion, but once Rovers got some momentum going, it was difficult to work out why there are so many league positions, between Evans top six side and John Ward's strugglers.
The visitors took the lead shortly before half time.
A John-Joe O'Toole free kick split the United defence and found Ryan Brunt in a clear goal scoring position, Rotherham defender Claude Davis, making his début after signing from Crawley, shoved Brunt in the back and the referee, David Webb, pointed to the penalty spot without hesitation
Davis was walking a tightrope, because he'd already been booked for fouling Brunt earlier in the game, but he avoided been shown a red card in this instance.
Lee Brown stepped forward, Andy Warrington went the wrong way ... and the away end reverberated to the strains of 'Goodnight Irene' as the Gas Heads celebrated breaking the deadlock.
In stoppage time, Claude Davis topped off a first appearance for his new club, that he'll want to forget, when he hauled down Eliot Richards as he broke forward towards the Rotherham goal area.
Davis, not surprisingly, was dismissed and Rotherham were now going to have to stage a fightback, against a buoyant Rovers side, with just ten men.
Seven minutes into the second half, Rovers substitute Ellis Harrison made an immediate impact on the game, when he burst forward down the left flank, leaving the Rotherham midfield for dead, slipped the ball past right back Dale Tonge, who promptly fell on his arse and fired the ball home from an angle past the evergreen Andy Warrington.
Dale Tonge hoping the ground will swallow him up.
It was a great strike and Rotherham were now well and truly on the ropes, without a gum shield, or a plan B to resort to, to turn the game around.
Evan's side were now completely disjointed and Joe Anyinsah took advantage of some AWOL defending, swapped passes with Michael Smith and hit a rasping shot from inside the box that Warrington couldn't keep out despite his best efforts. It was another quality strike by the visitors.
3-0 to Rovers ... cue a mass exodus from some parts of the ground, while the visiting supporters serenaded those leaving early (there was still around half an hour left) to the strains of "Is there a fire drill!?"
My theory was that the fans who'd worked so hard to clear all the snow off the pitch earlier in the day so that the game could go ahead, were just nipping out to retrieve their shovels, so they could chuck it all back on the pitch again in a bid to get the game abandoned ... it was Rotherham United's only hope of avoiding defeat now.
In the event, the snow shifters all buggered off home early instead.
They deserved more reward for their efforts. Rotherham United didn't deserve anything for theirs.
Lee Frecklington almost reduced the arrears, when he forced a great save out of Steve Mildenhall, but any kind of Rotherham comeback was looking ever more unlikely by the minute.
David Noble, who apparently used to play for another Bristol team, (so much for the "There's only one team in Bristol!" songs in the away end, ;-) ahem), thumped home a consolation goal for the Millers on 73 minutes from 20 yards out after latching onto a clearance. 
But it didn't spark any kind of revival and Bristol Rovers deservedly held onto their 3-1 lead until the final whistle.
FT - Rotherham United 1 v Bristol Rovers 3
There is *always* one uncooperative and miserable steward.
Rotherham United surprised me today. 
I didn't think, especially given their league position, that they could be as poor as some of the people who I've heard calling in to BBC Radio Sheffield's 'Praise or Grumble' programme, were making them out to be. 
But, I can only go on what I saw today. 
And though it would probably be unfair to form an opinion, after seeing their first team in action, one solitary time all season, I'd have to say ... Christ! They were shocking.
Bristol Rovers (pleasantly) surprised me too.
The quality of the finishing for two of their goals was quite outstanding, they thoroughly deserved their win and their supporters made a right racket throughout the game and deserve special praise too.
I doubt if it will even be scant consolation to any of the 6,100+ Millers fans present today, but I really enjoyed my first ever visit to the New York Stadium.