ROTHERHAM United caretaker-manager Andy Liddell got the response he was looking for but admitted he could never have imagined such a scoreline, writes Les Payne.
The Millers won 6-0 at Lincoln City, the club’s biggest away win since an identical scoreline at Millwall in August 2002.
“Perhaps I’ll pack it in now,” joked Liddell after seeing the Millers leap back into the play-offs helped by a hat-trick from Ian Thomas-Moore at the end of the week when dad Ronnie departed as the club’s manager.
“It was a fantastic result but even had we lost, I would have applauded them because I saw effort, passion, commitment and players giving their all,” said Liddell.
“Myself and the staff got the message across and the players have gone out there and really put it out.
Looking ahead to Tuesday’s home game with fellow promotion rivals Shrewsbury, Liddell said: “They know what’s required, more of the same.”
Who would have thought after their nightmare a week earlier..
Andy Liddell promised a response but no one could really have seen something like this - an outstanding, committed performance all over the park which left Lincoln stunned and blown away long before the result was sorted.
It was a triumph for all involved after a traumatic and difficult week and although his dad had departed, Ian Thomas-Moore certainly showed he’s very much around with a hat-trick to cap a marvellously re-energised performance by the Millers.
The new caretaker manager caused a stir even before kick off.
As he walked, suited and booted, on the touchline watching the players warm up beforehand, his teamsheet showed five changes from the previous Friday.
Most notable was in leaving out top scorer Adam Le Fondre although the little goal poacher could hardly argue given his form away from home over a period of time now.
Out too was skipper Ryan Cresswell which showed that Liddell and his team were not afraid to make the big decisions.
Nick Fenton declared himself fit and returned in his place whilst there were returns at full back for Dale Tonge and Tom Newey, the latter after suspension.
Back into midfield came Danny Harrison and Mark Bradley, both out in the cold recently.
It all meant positional alterations as well with Thomas-Moore up the middle alongside Ryan Taylor and Nicky Law out on the right flank.
Liddell had promised a response and there was one.
Right from the off there was a clear urgency and a quicker ball usage and they got off to the perfect start with a goal after just nine minutes.
Law swung in a good corner, it was diverted beyond the far post where Thomas-Moore struck a left foot volley which diverted off a defender on the line, onto the post and over the line as the linesman flagged to indicate it was in. It was his first goal for the club.
It got even better five minutes later. Bradley’s ball to Ryan Taylor brought a lovely touch aside into the path of Harrison racing from midfield and he drove a low 22 yarder past Parish’s left hand.
Liddell punched the air. It had been the perfect start.
In fact, they had overwhelmed the home side in all areas of the pitch with their energy, tempo and, as Liddell had demanded, commitment. The Imps were hounded all over the place and it was good to see. The fans lapped it up.
Only a fine save prevented Marshall’s header making in three from a Tonge centre. Then Law curled a 25 yard free kick just wide.
It was a splendid first half and eight minutes into the second half - with Cresswell on for Fenton at half-time - they’d scored two more, were 4-0 up and it was all over.
On 50 minutes Thomas-Moore took a return pass from Bradley and measured a fine volley from 18 yards in off the bar and three minutes later, as Harrison won the ball back, Ryan Taylor lined up his angled left foot and drove it unerringly inside the far post.
Lincoln were stunned and there was even better on the hour for the Millers when Thomas-Moore completed his hat-trick by slotting home a spot kick he won himself. Central defender Kanyuka got his second booking as a result and the Imps were down to 10 men.
Instantly Thomas-Moore went off, Le Fondre going on and the Millers indulged themselves a bit to some Oles from their fans.
Lincoln never got a look in and with three minutes to go the goal of the game wrapped it up, Jason Taylor’s 25 yarder flying into the top corner.
A Friday night to enjoy!
LINCOLN CITY: Parish; Kelly, Kanyuka, Watts, Anderson; Carayol, Kilbey (O’Keefe 76), Fuseini, McCallum; Spencer (Hone 61), B Hutchinson. Subs: Green, Clapham, A Hutchinson, Hughton, Musselwhite.
ROTHERHAM UTD: Warrington; Tonge, Mullins, Fenton (Cresswell ht), Newey; Law, Bradley (J Taylor 73), Harrison, Marshall; Thomas-Moore (Le Fondre 61), R Taylor. Subs: Green, Henderson, Daley, Annerson.