Rotherham 3 Crewe 1 - MATCH REPORT

A less than happy ronnie Moore
A less than happy ronnie Moore
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wHAT analogy you could use to describe this sort of game I’m not quite sure.

It could be a version of Strictly Come Dancing ... the slow, slow, quick quick, slow of the ballroom dancing variety, although this would have been more like slow, slow, slow, slow, then a bit of quick at the end.

Rotherham Players besiege Ryan taylor after he sealed the Millers win at DVS

Rotherham Players besiege Ryan taylor after he sealed the Millers win at DVS

Perhaps it was chess. Considered moves, much sideways, thoughtful probing, then solid defence.

Whatever it was, it turned out right.

When it’s teeming with rain and the pitch is soaked, you very often get a fast-paced game to match. The ball zips about on a skiddy surface, the pace is quickened, mistakes happen, even a few tackles (remember them?) fly in.

But this one sort of started slowly and, whilst there was some accomplished passing from both sides which made it interesting without being enthralling, there was rarely any tempo. It barely threatened to get you off your seat until Messrs Le Fondre and Taylor (R) intervened in the final six minutes.

Alexandra Adam Le Fondre runs away in celebration

Alexandra Adam Le Fondre runs away in celebration

Ronnie Moore turned to his assistant Jimmy Mullen after 20 minutes and likened it to a pre-season game.

It certainly wasn’t the sort of blood and thunder encounter you might expect when third meets seventh - and particularly when seventh can jump above third with a win.

Mind you, blood and thunder don’t feature too prominently on the Crewe curriculum. Then again, no Ronnie Moore team in a Millers guise has had less of it either, although they’ve certainly got more than the Alex.

No, the Millers set about trying to recreate the sort of football that destroyed Crewe so comprehensively in all but the scoreline (won 1-0) at Gresty Road back in November.

Alexandra Adam  Le Fondre loops the ball into the net for The Millers

Alexandra Adam Le Fondre loops the ball into the net for The Millers

Crewe seemed intent initially on ensuring there would be nothing like the dodgy defending that had seen them concede six at Northampton four days earlier.

Which more or less added up to a first-half stalemate which, basically, was Rotherham trying to find a way through and Crewe doing a two-banks-of-four job with additional concentration on not conceding, to keep them at bay.

For a side who were the division’s top scorers they showed very little as an attacking entity in the first half. Then again, perhaps the Millers took on board their brief and didn’t let Dario Gradi’s men get a first-half foothold.

Rotherham certainly had the ascendancy in that first half but struggled to test the keeper or expose Crewe’s season-long frailty of conceding at set-pieces.

The Millers did force some solid defending from Crewe, notably from ex-Millers favourite Dave Artell, and the first half looked to be drifting to a goalless stalemate when up popped the defender who has suddenly found the way to goal after two years without one.

In fact, Nick Fenton has scored more goals (3) this year than Adam Le Fondre (2).

It stemmed from a Marcus Marshall run on the left, Le Fondre not making contact at the near post and in swooped Fenton to finish off with a close range strike..

Crewe were more positive in the second half, with a stiff wind now blowing behind them, and showed the sort of technical ability that no-one can really match at this level.

But they weren’t winning the challenges, the loose balls, and that can only give opponents confidence.

After flashing a warning sign checked only by a tremendous tackle by Johnny Mullins, Crewe did equalise on 62 minutes.

Rotherham protested that Ajay Leitch-Smith was just offside when he received possession on the edge of the area. It certainly looked extremely close but the striker got the benefit of any doubt and fired past Andy Warrington.

Neither side quite seemed capable of adding the killer touch until a dramatic finale.

Mark Randall - having had an effect after his introduction - Fenton lifted the ball back towards the Crewe area.

Ryan Taylor produced the knockdown and although Le Fondre wasn’t favourite perhaps a little ‘skid’ off the surface helped give him a sniff.

He doesn’t need a deal more to leave opponents gasping. For once in the game he was able to escape the clutches of Patrick Ada, just getting a boot to the ball before the defender to do no more than direct it high over the keeper and towards goal. It bounced towards the empty net, the crowd slowly rising in anticipation and the cheers told the rest of us it was well over the line (“well over” is an inch in Alf’s reckoning) before Matt Tootle arrived to get a boot on it.

It was clearly well enough over the line, the linesman slipping and falling full length at the very moment he was signalling a goal.

It was No 19 and priceless.

The coup de grace was to come with two minutes left. Ryan Taylor pressured Artell out on the right wing and got possession. He came inside and then despatched a stunning left-foot strike into the far top corner.

It was a cracker to add to some pretty decent goals among the 35 scored at home already.

Compare that with everybody else and we might deduce it’s not been too bad after all at the DVS so far!

Anyway, an important three points in view of the opposition and now a much sterner test of a different kind at Gillingham tomorrow.

BOSS’S VIEW

I’m pleased enough with that.

There was a lot of endeavour and hard work and if Ryan Taylor hadn’t put in the effort to pressure Dave Artell near the end then he wouldn’t have got the chance to score with that fantastic finish.

Crewe do pass it well but we stopped them in the first half. Their goal was dubious, the lads claim it was offside.