ROMANCE of the FA Cup? Not been much romance for the Millers in the past decade. They’ve been jilted far too often.
At times, it’s seemed more like a divorce. They’ve tried to make up a few times, but always had the door slammed in their face when they thought they might be getting somewhere.
You wouldn’t head off to Barrow for a spot of romance either! The Lakes certainly. But the good folk of this football outpost were all seduced and getting excited by the possibilities of some
There was the thrill of anticipation as they tarted themselves up ready for the attraction that was swanning into town. They were going to look their best and see where it got them.
Well, for once, it’s Rotherham giving somebody the knockback.
They left it late but the momentum had been with the Millers after an hour and in the final 20 minutes Barrow were pushed deeper and it was simply a case of could Rotherham find the equaliser.
Thankfully they did and then bagged the winner after a fortuitous, but correct, penalty decision to put a replay out of the question. In some respects it was, as claimed, a ‘fantastic result’, but too much of what had gone on hardly warranted the effusive praise. Up to the hour mark, Rotherham had been second best, misfiring in too many positions and not convincing at times defensively.
But games aren’t usually won on a good hour. The double substitution, Brett Williams and Danny Schofield, had an effect, particularly Schofield who was able to pick some passes and pick out teammates.
Barrow began to flag, their priority became hold on to that 1-0 lead, something we’ve seen underdogs do many times in this competition over the years, particularly on their own patch.
As we have seen also, the superior team often comes up with a sickening equaliser. The penalty winner then deflated Holker Street’s best crowd of the season.
There’d been an FA Cup surprise before kick-off with Guy Branston lining up.
On Thursday morning, Andy Scott told the world that Branston (and Jon Harley) were out as their clubs wouldn’t let them play. Later that morning, word came through from Bradford City permitting Branston to play.
Rather than reveal this spot of good news, which would have been welcomed by Millers fans, Scott decided to keep it under wraps.
“Once we knew, mid-training on Thursday, I felt there was no reason for anyone to know,” said the Millers boss.
Branston and the rest were helpless onlookers as Barrow bagged their 16th-minute lead through Paul Rutherford after Conrad Logan made a right mess of dealing with a corner and then the immediate aftermath with a fluffed punch.
Had Adam Boyes finished off a great chance four minutes later when he looked sure to score, then Rotherham might very well have been on the way out.
That chance was set up by speedy right winger Jack Mackreth who caused a lot of problems to the Millers and had a fascinating duel with Tom Newey who, though stretched, did just enough to come to terms with him in the second half and prevent more trouble.
Newey and Michael Tonge both rescued really dangerous situations after centre-defence lapses.
There was still time for Revell to have a 25-yarder superbly touched over. He’d also headed narrowly wide while Gareth Evans couldn’t direct a header on target. But Rotherham, some Grabban flashes apart, had been ineffective up front.
Things changed with the double substitution. Schofield fired a chance over and then Evans had a low drive well turned aside by Hurst.
There was a key moment too when Almond fluffed a splendid opportunity.
With nine minutes left, following a corner, Tonge lifted the ball back in. Branston was offside but he simply kept walking out and let the ball go over him, Grabban never hesitated, raced in behind and finished clinically. .
He then fired home the penalty after Evans’ cross struck the raised arm of the challenging Smith - and the home side were left to feel aggrieved a great chance had slipped through their grasp.