Rotherham United 1
Huddersfield Town 3
DON’T read anything into pre-season friendlies, we are told. Particularly when you’re losing.
This was Rotherham’s third defeat in theirs and if we were to read anything into the three of them it’s that they aren’t yet ready to rub shoulders with the better teams in League One. But the top of League Two is Rotherham’s concern starting with what happens next Saturday and a visit from Oxford United whose manager Chris Wilder was at this game.
I’m not quite sure what he learned but this was Rotherham’s best performance of the three against opponents from the level they aspire to. Yes, they had another slow start where the opposition had the ball, the Millers reduced to chasing around and closing down, but this time they worked their way into the match, made opportunities and had genuine and dangerous efforts at goal.
All this began with a tremendous penalty area challenge by Tom Newey on Jordan Rhodes. Rotherham sprang upfield and Lewis Grabban had his 22 yarder well saved.
Dale Tonge fired just over after a link up with Adam Le Fondre who had a slightly deeper role than Chris Holroyd and Lewis Grabban.
When Le Fondre went for a mid-air volley from Tonge’s centre, he didn’t connect properly but it still required Alex Smithies to go full length to save and deny Holroyd as he moved in. Rotherham went closer after Grabban did well and Le Fondre’s shot diverted away off an unsuspecting Gary Naysmith on the line.
It was encouraging stuff but the Millers needed Conrad Logan to superbly deny Donal McDermott’s 20 yarder.
Rotherham took a 52nd minute lead with all three strikers involved.
Grabban did really well on the right. His centre saw Le Fondre go for the flamboyant overhead and as it bounced across the six yard area, Holroyd showed a predatory instinct by sliding in to finish off.
But Huddersfield - the bookies’ favourites to go up after their Play-off near miss - hit back on 64 minutes through McDermott who was released on the right by sub Lee Novak’s diagonal ball.
Minutes later Troy Brown was so close with a glancing header from Ben Pringle’s free-kick but that was to prove about it for the Millers and Huddersfield’s changes had a big impact with Alan Lee getting a big hand from Millers fans.
Novak drilled home on 72 minutes after Brown did really well to block his first shot.
After Logan denied Gary Roberts, Jordan Rhodes was put clean away for the third with ten minutes left and Logan’s excellent tip on to the bar from Novak’s header prevented another goal before Smithies denied Gareth Evans.
The Millers finish off by sending a side to play at Parkgate tonight (7pm).
ROTHERHAM UTD: Logan, Tonge, Brown, Cresswell, Newey; Harrison, Taylor, Pringle (Smith 80); Le Fondre (Evans 69); Holroyd, Grabban (Marshall 69). Unused: Warrington.
HUDDERSFIELD TOWN: Smithies; Woods (Hunt 72), Clarke (McCombe 65), Cooper (Kay 65), Naysmith (Ridehalgh 66); Roberts, Johnson (Arfield 60), Miller, McDermott (Cadamateri 85), Ward (Novak 54), Rhodes (Lee 83). Unused: Bennett.
Referee: Jock Waugh (Sheffield).