Burton Albion 2 Rotherham 4: MATCH REPORT

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IT had been a good week off the field with first sight of their iconic new home and a vision for the future to lift every Millers follower - and possibly persuade a few more new ones too.

Even the most sceptical would have nodded in assent, with considerable delight too, although I don’t doubt there’s one or two, even now, who last went to Millmoor when Danny Williams was a lad and will still be reckoning: “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

Well, it’s down on paper and plenty more besides and you’d struggle to find anyone of a red and white hue not convinced by Tony Stewart’s drive and desire to bring the club back home.

All that was needed to round off a momentous few days was something decent on the pitch. And, unlike artist’s impressions of a new ground, football matches aren’t sorted out on paper.

Talking of homes, Rotherham’s away form had been far from the promotion brochure look of gated mansion with a scrunchy drive. Five away defeats on the trot was more a case of in the doghouse!

So, they set off here with three of the next four fixtures seeing them on their travels and they definitely had to start winning again in front of the travelling faithful - preferably starting at Burton.

That they did so was ultimately down to a second half of drive and desire and determined persistence in their attacking.

Oh yes, helped earlier by managing to keep the first-half deficit down to a single goal and also by Burton missing a penalty five minutes into the second half.

After that turn of fortune, the Millers did it all themselves, finally topping off a cracking game when Adam Le Fondre belatedly, but crucially, introduced himself to it in the devastating way that just about only he can.

It was goal No 21 but his first away from home since October 16 when his penalty helped secure a 3-2 win at Accrington, which also happened to be the last time the Millers came from behind to win a game.

It served to emphasise how important his goals will be in these final couple of months, goals which will be ever more crucial when he has these sort of quiet, less effective days.

With Danny Coid back on duty at right-back after his second loan spell was secured only a few hours before the game, just 53 playing seconds had elapsed before talk of keeping a clean sheet went up in smoke.

Greg Pearson took advantage of an absence of defenders to head in and it was the worst possible start, with minds drifting back to Burton winning their last home game 1-0 against leaders Chesterfield having scored after four minutes.

But Rotherham countered in the best possible manner with an equaliser from their first goal threat in the fifth minute, Johnny Mullins planting a well-placed header beyond the keeper after Nick Fenton had headed Tom

Newey’s free-kick across the area.

It was Mullins’ first goal for Rotherham but equally as vital were three instances when he almost certainly prevented goals with timely interventions, twice on Pearson in the first half. Then, in the second half, he diverted over a curler from Russ Penn which seemed to be arrowing towards the far top corner.

Burton, belying their lowly position, were full of high-tempo energy as they troubled Rotherham in a fast-paced first half. The 34th-minute strike from Aaron Webster, successfully converted from defender into goalscoring midfielder (this was his tenth), might well have been instantly followed by another from Pearson.

Rotherham certainly had their attacking moments too and twice went close through Ryan Taylor who was a handful and led the line well. But 2-1 at half-time could certainly have been a deal worse.

Against the stiff wind in the second half, Rotherham might have levelled in the opening minute when Le Fondre couldn’t slide in Marcus Marshall’s centre and then a few minutes later came the stroke of luck teams need when Webster struck his penalty against the bar after a foul by Marshall.

A 3-1 margin might have proved fatal but the Millers produced concerted second-half attacking that was a major part of a stirring second period.

The introduction of Liam Henderson was to prove pivotal not least for his own contribution whilst also seemingly freeing up Marshall to go and cause problems from elsewhere.

Within minutes Henderson, who went out on the right, delivered a really telling centre and Marshall stooped to conquer with the header.

Rotherham hunted the winner and Henderson twice shot narrowly wide. When Nicky Law was brilliantly denied by Adam Legzdins, it seemed United would have to settle for a point.

But in the 88th minute Marshall, beavering in centrally from the left, slipped a pass forward and Le Fondre shot as he spun. Of course, the intention was certainly to find the net but you have to doubt if the intended route was the one the ball took as it looped up over the keeper and dropped in off the bar.

But the Millers followers, starved of success for the previous five away games, didn’t care and it was typically opportunist from Le Fondre who had been pretty well shackled by his former Rochdale teammate, Nathan

Stanton.

All that was required now was for defensive defiance and the best example was in the lead-up to the superb breakaway that brought the fourth goal in the fourth, and last, minute of stoppage time.

From Burton’s corner, Fenton made it his with a strong, committed header away. It set things going forward, Law got away and had colleagues streaming forward.

He picked out Jason Taylor who finished well, reward for his afternoon’s graft and the feisty tussle he’d had with Burton skipper John McGrath which was delightfully old fashioned in its spiky give ’n’ take.

They’re off on their travels again tomorrow to Torquay and the Millers have yet to win a league game on a Tuesday night this season. No time like the present to sort that one out then!

Manager’s View

Let’s give them loads of credit for the second-half performance; it was fantastic. But let’s remember that we were very fortunate with the first-half performance and that sort of defending isn’t good enough. I was happy to be only 2-1 down at half-time.

We lacked belief in that first half and we can’t afford to be like that. Words were said and I’ll give ’em bags of praise for the second half.

Play like we did in the first half and we won’t be in the top three.

Play like the second half and no-one will live with them.

We got lucky with the (missed) penalty. It would have been difficult from two goals behind.

We certainly needed the win and need to be at it again at Torquay tomorrow.