MATCH REPORT: Rotherham United 1 Plymouth 0

Rotherham Utd v 'Millers Supersub, Kieran Agard scores the match winning goal
Rotherham Utd v 'Millers Supersub, Kieran Agard scores the match winning goal
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AS A biting wind blew down from the Arctic, the veterans of Ice Station Don Valley - complete with their four-year campaign medals - would have welcomed the cosier confines of New York Stadium.

Crikey, even the sun shone on the righteous packing the North End to warm them (can’t ever remember that happening at you know where!) although shading your eyes was the downside of that.

Still, even through their squinting, they would still have see enough to have gladdened them and warmed them on a bitterly cold afternoon that had everybody prefacing the game through chattering-teeth with: “I’m glad we’re not at Don Valley today.

Had they been then I’m sure it wouldn’t have been a game like this. Atmosphere - or lack of it in the case of DVS - has some contribution towards the ‘feel’ of an afternoon and when a crowd in an arena with this sort of intimacy can see which way things are going for their team, then it definitely seems a whole lot better.

However, in what often seemed a frantic match, the Millers took an awful long time to finally make their dominance and general superiority count.

Plymouth ran and fought to keep Rotherham out. Whereas Morecambe had done so for over an hour in midweek with their system and defensive organisation, Plymouth were full of effort and energy in achieving the same outcome.

Backing it all up was goalkeeper Jake Cole whose first-half saves prevented the Millers having it stitched up by half-time.

He kept out a Lee Frecklington volley then followed up minutes later with a fine, full length tip-round of Ben Pringle’s 20-yarder. From the ensuing corner, he produced a reflex save to keep out Alex Revell’s header.

Before that little lot he’d pushed out a piledriver from Gareth Evans and Rotherham looked persistently threatening.

Their attacking was given impetus from left-back where Josh Morris - in for Bob Harris who had been recalled by Blackpool - was ever willing to get forward. The 21-year-old, starting a loan spell from Blackburn, certainly enjoyed a very good debut.

Not a happy afternoon, unfortunately, for the other full-back. In fact, not an afternoon at all.

In only the third minute, Dale Tonge got his challenge away on the speedy Paris Cowan-Hall right by the corner flag. He cleared the ball into touch but his entirely accidental impact with the winger saw him stay down with an injured knee and it was instantly apparent he was in some pain.

The manager’s rough estimate of likely absence was about three weeks but a clearer picture will emerge during the week.

This, together with the pre-match warm-up loss of Lionel Ainsworth, underlines that, how ever miffed subs might be to be sitting on the bench, the quickest of calls can come their way.

So, Gareth Evans got an unexpected start and Mark Bradley was soon required to show his versatility and steadiness again.

Any moment you expected the Millers to cash in. Kari Arnason, against his former club, thought he’d headed Rotherham in front from a corner only for the ref to indicate a spot of pushing by Daniel Nardiello near the goalline.

Rotherham got the odd spot of trouble in the first half from the lively Cowan-Hall and he was behind the nearest Plymouth were to come all game when, five minutes from half-time, his centre saw Guy Madjo flying in at full pelt but unable to control his header.

The half ended with Revell’s shot being saved and, rather strangely, the Millers were sent out into the cold five minutes early for the second half. Steve Evans said he’d had “a few words” at half-time.

Well, they appeared to be caught cold early in the second half even though Evans blazed an 18-yard opening over the top inside 60 seconds.

Plymouth then had their best spell for the best part of 15 minutes, without troubling Andy Warrington, and Rotherham hadn’t quite regained the attacking momentum of the first half.

The introduction of Kieran Agard just past the hour seemed to provide a spark and, from thereon in, the visitors were on the back foot and began to get overpowered.

They managed to stay in the game until the 73rd minute when Pringle and Revell combined to set up Nardiello who showed his capacity for being a game-changer. His run and low ball from the right was finished off by Agard - his first for the club and reward for hungrily getting himself into an area where he might get a chance.

Great defending denied him another two minutes later and Rotherham, for the second time in the week, were unable to finish off creaking opponents and give themselves breathing space.

Revell could have rewarded his work and running in stoppage time but fired a clear chance into the North End, although the inhabitants therein were content - and feeling warmer than they ever did at the other place!