WHEN one of your promotion rivals has beaten you 5-0 just a month earlier, then gaining revenge might just prove rather high up the agenda.
It was certainly a shock when the Millers turned Port Vale over so comprehensively at the DVS on January 1. While the home side would still have been smarting, the prime desire for both sides in an ever-tightening race at the top of League 2 would have been to steal a march on a promotion rival.
Well, revenge it turned out to be. For the Millers it was a third straight away defeat with not a goal in any of them and, attacking wise, no one did enough to really disturb Vale’s back line.
The Millers named an unchanged side, Jason Taylor completing his three match ban last night. Vale boss Jim Gannon made a couple of changes, one of which saw him leaving out former Millers midfielder Gary Roberts. However, another player with Rotherham connections, loanee Exodus Geohaghon, was in the Vale midfield as one of two holding players, the other being former Doncaster Rovers man Anthony Griffith.
They had three behind the lone striker, Justin Richards – his main strike partner Marc Richards being out for another month with a thigh injury.
The contrast between here and a week earlier at Stevenage was pretty marked. Then it was a tight ground and the Millers seemed cramped for space – here on the acres of Vale Park there was plenty of room. After a dangerous early effort from Marshall, cutting in but shooting straight at the keeper, both sides had really good chances within a minutes of each other.
Rotherham carved out the first one after 15 minutes, Law doing well on the left before his centre picked out the unmarked Le Fondre – but his left foot volley from eight yards lacked venom.
Rotherham were still digesting that when a long ball from Collins caught out the back line and Richards was away. However, Warrington came out and made an excellent block.
Griffith drove a 30 yarder wide before we had the first glimpse of Geohaghon’s long throw – a weapon well known to Millers followers. Fenton headed it away from deep inside the six yard area.
Another long throw to Vale was to spark a Rotherham threat because they broke away through Law. He carried possession a long way, found Le Fondre on the left and his shot was touched behind by Martin.
Vale went even closer shortly afterwards when O’Shea rattled a post with a 25 yard free-kick. Law, who got a last minute winner here last season, went close in the opening couple of minutes of the second half. But it was a false dawn because Vale went in front on 53 minutes.
Loft played the ball in towards Richards on the edge of the area but O’Shea attempted to control it. He failed, but the ball spun up off his foot and as it dropped he hit a dipping volley from 20 yards which gave Warrington no chance.
Six minutes later, with Vale’s tails up, it could have been worse. Fenton’s clearance rebounded off Mullins and fell for Richards but he fired over the top from eight yards.
Thomas-Moore saw an effort spin wide before Law’s 20 yarder was too close to the keeper. Next a snap-shot from Thomas-Moore was held by Martin as Rotherham began to push forward. Taylor tried his luck from 25 yards, the ball clipping off the top of the bar. As Vale became edgy it allowed Rotherham the opportunity to push forward but the Millers were not sharp enough up front.
Failure to put the ball into the penalty area when the chance arose, even in stoppage time, was certainly an infuriating aspect of their second half play.