Match Report: Rotherham United 2 Stevenage 1

Rotherham United celebrate the winner
Rotherham United celebrate the winner
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Just for those who’d left early last time and missed it and to suit anybody who wanted to see an action replay of it in the flesh, the Millers produced a reprise of their dramatic last-gasp winner against Orient to see off Stevenage.

Talk about de ja vu.

I doubt it ever happened at Millmoor and it will be a miracle if it ever happens again how ever long the New York Stadium stands proudly on the town skyline. Can successive home games ever have been won so late on by goals which were so, so identical in their execution?

Only the scorer’s name changed. Lee Frecklington’s winning shot was a dead ringer for Alex Revell’s electrifying moment two weeks earlier, curled with deliberate precision from the same sort of place, same sort of distance and squeezed - inch perfect - into the very same space as the keeper dived towards his left-hand post in a vain attempt to keep it out.

Both goals even started with possession regained off an opponent, again in almost the same place The difference this time was that Haris Vuckic made the assist for Frecklington.

Frecklington showed the same sort of composure of bravery and fearlessness to try it and of skill to execute it, as did Revell the other week. It even seemed to hit the same part of the net. There must be some strong sucking going on in parts of that North End!

The timing was slightly different - the final knockings of stoppage time v Orient, here with two minutes left of normal time.

Either way, two points have been turned into six and when you consider this win (with Peterborough and Walsall drawing 0-0 the previous night) put a seven-point gap between the Millers and seventh, you can see the value of it.

To be honest, I’d been wondering when a home win like this would come along. And, if it doesn’t seem strange, I was rather hoping that some time soon they’d dig out a win - sort of not played well or been second best but somehow got home.

It was almost to see if they could do it this way; see if they were capable of sticking at it when not quite up to scratch and coming up with three points clenched in the fist.

Until now, they haven’t had a victory like this. Perhaps we had got just a bit spoiled.

You know the familiar pattern - swamp the opposition for 30 minutes, play some excellent stuff, drop off a bit second half but end up generally having pleased the fans who finished happy with the win or frustrated it wasn’t one and grumbling that “we should have been three or four up in the first xx minutes” (fill in the blank).

In a perverse way, you could say it was the best home result yet! Perhaps many won’t agree, but I don’t think the Millers deserved to win it. Stevenage certainly deserved something. But who cares?

Boss Steve Evans reckoned his side were “a notch down”. Stevenage, bottom but definitely not looking like it, were a notch or two up.

They were well set up and perhaps the Millers had a problem with a Stevenage formation which was uncannily like the one Rochdale turned to 20 minutes into the FA Cup tie here which they were to boss for the last hour.

It included three at the back, wingers doubling as wing-backs, with Lucas Akins certainly preventing James Tavernier having free rein, along with midfield tweaks including freedom for skilful Filipe Morais ‘in the hole’.

They grafted from minute one, stopped Rotherham getting up that familiar head of steam and went forward.

But you always felt Rotherham could handle matters, although Francois Zoko should have scored with a header at Adam Collin after 17 minutes.

Rotherham’s familiar route through Revell seemed tailor-made for the Stevenage trio at the back. When, after Revell’s departure with a facial injury, Haris Vuckic went on to pose them a different problem and skilfully link up the play, they looked distinctly less comfortable.

Rotherham did have a few moments, though, and none better, of course than the opener, over which Stevenage grumbled. Initially, it seemed to be for offside against scorer Wes Thomas as everything was directed vehemently at the linesman but afterwards - and someone may have noted he was just onside - the complaint was over Revell’s aerial challenge on keeper Day.

Having seemingly caught the ball above Revell, Day dislodged it when, in his downward momentum, he bumped it on the top of the striker’s head and it dropped away.

Thomas should have scored then but his shot was cleared off the line; Kieran Agard’s follow up was blocked and Mark Bradley’s ball across the area was finished off by Thomas.

Rotherham were still celebrating when Collin made a brilliant save to keep out Peter Hartley’s header.

Kari Arnason was inches from an own goal just after half-time and Luke Freeman should have scored as Stevenage failed to finish. Rotherham - with Richie Smallwood producing important interventions - kept threatening, Revell forcing a fine save.

Few could have begrudged Stevenage Zoko’s equaliser with four minutes to go. They might have had one minutes earlier but for a wonderful tackle by Arnason on Heslop. But this Millers side keep going.

Vuckic wasn’t deceived by Parrett and won the ball. He moved on then found Frecklington and, well, you know what happened next ...

Match-winner Lee Frecklington says Rotherham United will keep on proving the doubters wrong and they will aim for a strong finish again - just like last season.

“A lot of people might not have expected us to be up where we are, perhaps thought we’d have fallen away by now, but they can say what they like,” said the Millers skipper.

“We were always hopeful and ambitious enough to have a good go at this division.We have put ourselves in a good position and exactly where we want to be with 16 games to go.

“We just have to keep it going and, hopefully, finish strongly, like we did last season,” added the midfielder whose 88th-minute winner against Stevenage took his tally for the season to nine.

He admitted the Millers hadn’t played to the level they can.

“Teams who do well are those who can play ugly and win and, this season, that’s something we haven’t managed to do,” he said. “Well, this was an ugly game.

“We’ve had a lot of disappointing results here and played a lot better and not won. Our tempo wasn’t as good as it has been in recent weeks, but Stevenage make it very difficult. At half-time we were one up and didn’t deserve to be.

“It was great to see the winner go in and the lads have been ribbing me, saying Revs (Alex Revell) has been giving me finishing lessons because it was just like his goal against Orient.

“I’m one off double figures, which I always think is a good return for a midfield player, and I hope there’s a few more in there yet.”

Mark Bradley injured his back, while Craig Morgan fell ill and pulled out on Saturday morning.

The reserves are due to play Mansfield reserves at Parkgate this afternoon.