What a great sight greeted the Rotherham United players on the club’s return to League One after six seasons.
They walked out to see the away stand down one side of the pitch filled completely with the big Millers following, most clad in club shirts with a lot still in last year’s yellow away shirt - the team was wearing the new grey away kit and they certainly weren’t as prominently clear amongst the travelling hordes.
They gave their favourites a tremendous reception with a special welcome for club legend Paul Warne when he walked over that side minutes before the teams came out so as to set up his warm-up cones.
But the noisy away following was stunned into silence when the Millers went behind in only the second minute to a deflected goal.
Morgan cleared a left-side attack, newcomer GRANT closed in 25 yards out, struck it first time and the ball flicked off the challenging Worrall, changing trajectory and going high beyond Shearer into the far top corner.
Five minutes later Rotherham really should have been level.
Revell won his header, Pringle lifted the ball beyond the defence but Frecklington, on his own, somehow put his shot wide from 12 yards.
Worse followed in the next minute when Rotherham went two down but they then pulled one back straightaway making it three goals in the opening ten minutes of the new season.
Crewe broke from deep and a long ball cleared Davis. Leitch-Smith got almost to the line, cut the ball back low and CLAYTON got in front of Morgan at the near post to turn the ball in.
Rotherham certainly needed a quick reply and got one.
Arnason’s long throw was headed out and dropped towards FRECKLINGTON whose volley from 22 yards went low past Martin, possibly with the aid of a slight deflection.
Frecklington then almost got an equaliser.
Revell’s header and Worrall’s pass saw Frecklington spot the opportunity and floating one beyond the keeper from an angle 20 yards out and it wasn’t far off target.
Mellor had a free header from a corner and headed straight at Shearer.
Then Rotherham were cut open down their left and Moore dallied when the cross came in and a great chance was lost.
It was certainly a game of fast-paced action with both sides threatening and defences stretched.
Revell was proving a handful in the air and when he nodded down, Frecklington’s 25 yard volley flew over.
Then it was on the ground that Revell almost equalised. A header dropped outside the area and the big striker had a go on the turn and it flashed inches wide with the keeper beaten.
Arnason produced a so-vital challenge on Colclough as he lined up a shooting opportunity deep in the area and then Rotherham broke out really well and so nearly cashed in, Worrall’s return ball for Revell, with Crewe wide open, just lacked a bit of power and Mellor got a desperate touch.
As the teams trooped off at half-time, it had certainly been a vibrant first half full of attacking football from both sides and nothing in it after the blistering first ten minutes.
HT Crewe 2 Rotherham United 1
Just as they had a bad start to the first half so the Millers did in the second half and again it was a goal conceded in the second minute of the half.
Colclough went at Brindley inside the area and had actually flicked the ball too far when he was tripped by the Millers right back. DAVIS struck home the spot kick. It was a grievous blow for Steve Evans’s side.
Revell was so close to an instant reply with a shot on the turn which struck the bar.
Boss Evans didn’t hang about with his substitutions. Davis and Worrall went off and Tubbs and Agard went on.
The reshuffle saw Arnason at the back, Frecklington in centre midfield, Agard on the right and Tubbs up front.
And inside a minute Revell had a great chance to score when he closed in all alone on a Skarz centre. He dived forward but made only a glancing connection and laid prone with disappointment right on the six yard line.
First opportunity for Tubbs was an opening 16 yards out at an angle but he miscued his shot.
The Millers certainly were having a go at pulling back the deficit and Crewe were having to defend desperately.
There was a tremendous reception for crowd favourite Aneke when he replaced Leitch-Smith.
The home side lived dangerously at times and when Frecklington produced a superb ball it got Tubbs down the right and clear. He tried to pick out Pringle moving into the area but Osman cut it out as Pringle got there.
When Tubbs got in behind the defence he was challenged heavily as he tried to turn the ball goalwards. He crashed to the ground and there were calls for a penalty but the referee wasn’t listening,
No one could fault Rotherham’s effort in trying to get back into the game but the key thing was - they were trying to get back in it from two goals behind.
With five minutes left PRINGLE’S angled 15 yarder from the right gave the Millers a lifeline.
In second minute of stoppage time FRECKLINGTON struck tremendous volley into top corner to equalise and send fans absolutely wild. They deserved it.
CREWE ALEXANDRA:(4-3-3) Martin, Mellor, Davis, Ray, Tootle, Moore, Osman, Grant, Clayton, Leitch-Smith, Colclough. Subs: Phillios, Ellis, Turton, Oliver, Aneke, Audel, West.
ROTHERHAM UNITED: (4-2-3-1) Shearer, Brindley, Davis, Morgan, Skarz, Arnason, O’Connor, Worrall, Frecklington, Pringle, Revell. Subs: Collin, Bradley, Milsom, Tubbs, Noble, Agard, Tidser.
Referee: Scott Duncan (Newcastle)