Match Report: Rotherham United 2 Fleetwood 1

Kieran Agard somersaults in celebration of his winning goal as team mates Johnny Mullins (left) and Ben Pringle look on in amaze
Kieran Agard somersaults in celebration of his winning goal as team mates Johnny Mullins (left) and Ben Pringle look on in amaze
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It was afternoons and games like this that the New York Stadium was designed for!

Chairman Tony Stewart - who could hardly sit down in the Directors Box in the second half such was the excitement and the late tension - had this stadium designed specifically for sight and sound.

Well, we all saw what went off - an exciting game, a frantic cup-tie really - and we most certainly heard the noise!

And we can be certain that, having withstood the cacophony of sound that greeted the winner, the roof has been firmly bolted in place otherwise it would have come off.

OK, like not quite 8,000 inside but the design and the acoustics make it sound like about three times as many.

Pity my poor eardrum (yes, I’ve only got one, all that football rubbish talked into it destroyed the other, somebody once said!) if there’s a full house on the last day with the Millers knowing a win would guarantee going up and the fans are giving it what for!

Should they win the next two, that’s what we’d come to. But that’s jumping too far ahead.

Anyway, no harm in reflecting on a cracking afternoon’s entertainment - let the professionals talk about sticking their focus only on the next game, ie tomorrow at Bradford City. Hot stuff?

Vindaloo indeed!

This was nothing less. Spicy, heated, fiery at times and when you’ve two sets of players really having a go in all aspects of the game, then you’ve got a match that excites, gets you off your seat, tenses you up, and leaves you breathless.

Before the game I met a young man over from Milan, Mattia Cerruti, 17, who picked out the Millers on Playstation three years ago and began supporting them then.

This was his first visit along with his father, Sandro, a Juventus fan. Young Mattia was really excited.

I’ll tell you what, I bet they absolutely loved it and everything about it. You couldn’t do much else.

It even got me involved from the supposed neutrality of the Press Box so no wonder the North End, and the rest of the place, was in a ferment when a period of pressure in the second half was capped off with the second goal.

The place erupted and there was a little fat bloke sprinting 25 yards onto the pitch in celebration and no wonder. You don’t want a touchline ban on days like Saturday!

A mixture of relief and delight engulfed everyone at that moment as the place erupted. Then there was the expected late defending to sort out as Fleetwood summoned up kitchen sink, taps and even the plughole in an attempt to equalise.

As expected, they’d come to attack and it made for a game that was more a frenetic cup-tie than a league match.

When you’ve two teams knowing they have to win (Fleetwood still had an outside chance of the Play-offs) and both are going all out for that win, then you can expect just about anything.

We got plenty.

There was some excellent football interspersed with forced and unforced errors which all contributed to the pace it was played at.

You wouldn’t argue against the effort every single player put in or the combative nature of it all.

And with the visitors throwing in some of muscular physicality - which always fires up a home crowd a bit more and particularly if the ref misses one or two things - then the temperature was on the rise all the time.

You couldn’t take your eyes off it for a second.

The fact Rotherham had to defend their slender advantage late on simply added to the drama.

But they deserved the win and it could have been less fraught although Fleetwood, despite the imposing presence of £300,000 striker Jamille Matt, didn’t quite have enough to get the better of a Millers back line in which Kari Arnason produced all his quality.

The blue touch paper was lit in a dramatic opening five minutes with a goal each.

It was Alex Revell’s willingness to pressure him which forced ‘keeper Davies to hurry his clearance.

It got only as far as Daniel Nardiello near the corner of the area and, although it popped up awkwardly, his finishing strike as he came under pressure was inch perfect and pure quality - the sort of reason the rank and file clamour for his inclusion and overlook any foibles.

It was officially his 20th of the season but came at a cost, however, because he clattered the boot of the challenging Goodall and despite trying to carry on, he couldn’t.

By the time he limped off a few minutes later, Fleetwood had levelled, a miskick from Brown falling nicely for Ball to finish off.

The half had a whiff of goals about it, certainly with Fleetwood looking vulnerable.

The second half unfolded with a spell of mounting pressure from the Millers although, within it, Joe Skarz made a great block to deny Brown 12 yards out.

There were two big penalty claims when Revell went down; O’Connor blasted just over; Mullins had a header cleared off the line.

It was as if the mounting expectancy, coupled with hope and the crowd’s willingness for a goal, all exploded with relief when they did score just past the hour.

Kieran Agard finished off from close in after Pringle’s shot had been blocked. Agard went head over heels - the fans settled for jumping up and down, shouting and going potty!

Lee Frecklington shot inches wide, Arnason headed just over and, amidst Fleetwood’s valiant attempts to equalise, was a superb save by Davies to keep out Pringle’s 18 yarder.

Millers fans have done the maths. Three wins guarantees promotion.

Anything less and a calculator, a computer and even Pythagoras would be struggling to work out all the combinations of results required.

Except that then Bradford City, whose last three are Rotherham and Burton at home and Cheltenham away, will have the decisive say!

It’s going down to the last match. If it doesn’t, Millers followers, then it’s the Play-offs on May 2 and May 5.