A 90th minute winner from young Courtney Cameron secured Rotherham a dramatic 2-1 win away to Rochdale, deservedly secured after they had come from behind to make it a fifth successive away victory, writes Les Payne.
It was reward for a second half performance of drive, desire and persistence as, initially, they fought for an equaliser and then pushed on with determination for the winner.
Both goals were in the final 12 minutes but were well deserved. Rotherham had dominated the second half and they gradually overpowered the home side who had led from the 29th minute.
It was, perhaps, no surprise that the equaliser should come from a set-piece as they had troubled Rochdale all afternoon from corners and long throws.
It was a corner which produced the 78th minute equaliser and came from Kayode Odejayi who was making his first start since the debacle at Dagenham in November. As for young Cameron, 18 and on loan from Aston Villa, it was his first goal in senior football and for the second game running, a substitution became a match-winning one.
It was a superb finish from just outside the area and sent the Millers following of around 1,300 wild with delight.
“This squad has great character and they showed it because this is a tough place to come and we had to come from behind as well,” said Millers boss Steve Evans. “It was thoroughly deserved. We shouldn’t have been behind and the second half was total domination.”
Daniel Nardiello, two goal hero from Saturday, was missing through illness whilst Ben Pringle returned after a one-match ‘rest’.
Rotherham certainly had the near misses as the sides fought for that crucial first goal. Agard headed wide before Pringle’s corner saw Bradley’s header on target only for Edwards to deflect it over two yards out.
Then came two real near things for the Millers inside a couple of minutes followed by Rochdale going in front.
From another Pringle right-side corner, Arnason’s header came off the underside of the bar with Millers players appealing that it was over.
Then when a Pringle centre got deflected, Frecklington nipped into area and clear. Keeper Lillis threw himself down, the Millers man attempted to clip the ball over him but it deflected off Lillis’s back and cleared the bar.
The Dale response was to go in front two minutes later. Right back Rafferty broke up the right, played the ball in to Grimes and he turned smartly inside Mullins and finished in off the bar.
Pringle spurned a great opportunity for an equaliser in the second half’s opening minute when he robbed Cavanagh following a short goal kick but, clear, blazed his 18 yarder over the top.
Rotherham slowly began to imposed themselves on the home side who, playing with a 4-1-4-1 formation looked to use their pace and mobility to try and spring on the break. But they were too busy defending to threaten.
Although Rotherham wound it up, they weren’t actually creating much in the way of chances and opportunities but the constant pressure began to wear down Dale who were in survival mode.
Finally, Rotherham’s pressure paid off and so too did another substitution.
Revell had come off the bench and it was his challenge for Cameron’s 78th minute corner which saw the ball drop insided the six yard area. Odejayi, back to goal, showed his strength by forcing the ball home on the turn.
So, settle for a point then? No. The Millers poured forward and went for it.
As the game entered its 90th minute, Odejayi surged up the right and caused panic. Frecklington then turned the ball aside to Cameron who measured his left footer to perfection inside the right hand post.
In a final desperate throw, Rochdale went forward and Warrington blocked a Kennedy shot with his legs in the fourth added minute.
* ROCHDALE: Lillis; Rafferty (Bennett 69), R Edwards, P Edwards, McIntyre; Cavanagh; Grant, Tutte, Kennedy, Grimes (Donnelly 75); Gornell. Subs: Barry-Murphy, Putterill, Adebola, Craney, Smith.
* ROTHERHAM UNITED: Warrington, Bradley, Mullins, Arnason, Ridehalgh, Taylor, O’Connor, Pringle (Revell 69), Frecklington, Agard (Cameron 57), Odejayi. Subs: Sharps, O’Connell, Walker, Thompson.
* Referee: Stuart Attwell (Warwicks)
* Attendance: 3,408.
* Goals: Grimes (29) for Rochdale; Odejayi (78), Cameron (90) for the Millers.