Match report: Rotherham United 2 Leyton Orient 1

Alex Revell fires home a last gasp winner for Rotherham United against his former club Leyton Orient. Pic: Paul Wickson.
Alex Revell fires home a last gasp winner for Rotherham United against his former club Leyton Orient. Pic: Paul Wickson.
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It’s not yet two years old and New York Stadium is still compiling its list of memorable matches and moments.

Yes, there’s certainly a few memories from it’s first season which won’t be going away any time soon and you can certainly stick on a couple of wins this time over our friends from the big city, as well as two or three other things well worth filing.

But many of those who turned Alex Revell’s stoppage-time winner into the loudest explosion of single-moment sound so far at the Millers’ new home will reckon that moment one of the great stadium moments so far.

They will have, ahem, revelled in it over a pint or two on Saturday night, and it’ll stick around for a long time.

The place very much did erupt at the precise moment Revell’s measured 20-yarder hit the net at the North End a few seconds beyond the designated four minutes of stoppage time.

The previous Saturday’s point-saver against Crawley was right at the end of added time too and if you tag on a 90th-minute goal against Crewe and the stoppage-time missed penalty against Coventry in the previous home games, it pays not to leave early!

Those who did so here would certainly have heard this roar wherever they’d parked the car. Or even back at home!

It secured a really excellent win against a very good side in a match where every inch was fought over. Every advantage was hard-earned and every opportunity had to be worked for.

Orient arrived with a record which spoke for itself. Best away record in the country; top scorers (32) away from home by a distance; top scorers in the division with 58. That’s more than two per game. They’d lost just once on their travels.

Stats like that don’t fall off trees. It means Russell Slade’s side are doing a heck of a lot right - week in, week out.

It was no slight on his own side by Steve Evans when he said Orient were the hardest-working side in the division.

He did say his own side deserved to be up in that bracket with them. Had they not been in this tough, windswept 90-odd minutes, there would have been no match-winning moment to celebrate. It was a superb victory.

This was an enthralling game. Never a dull moment. Okay, not the prettiest, but when you’ve teams grafting so hard and scrapping for every bit of ground all over the place, there’s no easy passage for a bit of nice, passing football.

As I remembered from the meeting at Brisbane Road, Orient close down and press so quickly.

Out of possession, I would say they are the best in this division. Rarely was a Millers player not being pressured.

On one occasion Mark Bradley, ten yards inside his own half near the touchline, was pressed by two Orient players with another two close by. When the ball did get forward, the next recipient found himself under immediate pressure.

But the Millers responded in kind and their response, particularly the defensive work in and around their own area, was excellent.

I thought Kari Arnason was immense, so often spotting the danger, so often taking the right option.

Others more than did their bit with strength and resilience but this bloke was a class act.

Orient had that air of confident expectancy you get from a team at any level who is used to scoring a lot of goals. It says much for Rotherham’s work that they restricted them to the minimum number of chances.

Of course, the Millers treated us to their customary flying start. This time with an early goal.

Wes Thomas, in his second start and first one at home, showed predatory instinct to get across his man for a glancing header, but you have to give a nod to the quality of the cross from Ben Pringle, curling in wickedly from the right and a nightmare to defend against.

In the final analysis, it was a crucial moment. It gave Rotherham an early advantage in a tight game and meant Orient were always chasing the game rather than Rotherham being forced to seek the lead.

Bradley was a whisker away from finishing another superb Pringle cross and there was an almost certain goal-saving block on Kieran Agard’s shot by Mathieu Baudry.

Orient, with Dean Cox lively out wide, demanded Rotherham’s fullest concentration when they attacked. Cox shot wide from 18 yards, the only clear opening they could chisel out such was the home defending.

The second half was more of the same with the conditions really difficult - such was the strength of the wind that one clearance by Alnwick soared outside the area and blew back, bounced once and landed on the roof of the net!

Tom Hitchcock, a half-time replacement for groin victim Thomas, almost doubled the lead on the hour, running away on to Revell’s header and Alnwick deflecting the shot narrowly wide as it went through his legs. The Millers continued to threaten.

Orient’s equaliser, with 15 minutes to go, had its origins in pressing Agard in their own half and winning possession. A long pass found Chris Dagnall out wide. His deep centre found Moses Odubajo alone and he finished well.

Rotherham forced some excellent, last-ditch defending from Orient but, as time ticked down, I honestly felt a draw was about right.

But the Millers can be relentless late on when they push and push. When a blatant penalty on Revell in stoppage time was refused, that looked to be the end.

But, in a cameo typical of so much that went on all game, Richie Smallwood fought to regain possession and played a simple but effective pass in to Revell just outside the box.

Underlining his new-found confidence with the goal in sight, the big striker glimpsed a gap, spurned any hit-and-hope and went for the measured finish.

Us Press lot are supposed to remain seated but I don’t mind admitting it fetched me off my perch and, judging by the bedlam, everybody else in the ground too.

Memory bank here it comes!