MATCH REPORT: Rotherham United 3 Gillingham 0

Marcus Marshall excels at right-back.
Marcus Marshall excels at right-back.
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IT was blowing a bit more at the area’s most famous wind tunnel, Don Valley Stadium, on Saturday.

Nothing to do with climate change though or any deep depression brought on by Alf’s departure.

Millers in control:  Lewis Grabban gets the better of Andy Frampton to fire home

Millers in control: Lewis Grabban gets the better of Andy Frampton to fire home

It was Gillingham, and the rest of League Two’s defenders, puffing out in relief when they heard the little goal machine had trundled off to penalty areas new, which meant they no longer had to worry about trying to locate him before he popped the ball into their net.

Of course, football being what it is - and before you could get much chance to contemplate the sentence “Who’s going to get the goals now?” - the Millers go and score more times at home than since February despite their top poacher having spent his Saturday lunch-time signing for Reading.

What it does mean is that all four strikers from last season, Le Fondre, Ryan Taylor, Tom Pope and Ian Thomas-Moore, have gone.

What it did mean, also, is that you could bet “peanuts” to a “proper offer” that a striker, possibly two, would be coming in anytime soon. There were plenty of Millers fans turning up still unaware that Le Fondre was now a Reading player.

New era: Millers players rush to congratulate scorer Lewis Grabban as the home side make light of the departure of Adam Le Fondre.    Pictures: Paul Wickson

New era: Millers players rush to congratulate scorer Lewis Grabban as the home side make light of the departure of Adam Le Fondre. Pictures: Paul Wickson

Reports that The Championship club have paid only £350,000 are underselling the whole deal, I understand.

Although very few transfer fees are disclosed these days, as if it’s some issue of national security, I believe the Millers have actually got more than that sum up front and that Reading did make a “proper offer” which could eventually turn out to be worth a good deal more than the half a million chairman Tony Stewart had indicated was the starting point.

So after 58 goals in 105 appearances, Alf (who had his final training session on Friday morning and did actually offer to play if things weren’t sorted in time) was gone and the Millers had to get on with it.

After a first half when the teams cancelled each other out, they certainly got on with it - and how! I can’t instantly recall a second 45 minutes at home for some time as good or as devastating as this one. By the end, a Gillingham side who were unbeaten and about whom many good things were said were simply blown away.

A few things happened to facilitate the Millers’ fine win and a move back to the top of the table as well as preserving their unbeaten record - the only one in League Two after just five matches.

Firstly they stuck at it in the first half when Gillingham made it difficult, although both sides barely gave the other an inch, pouncing on every error if they hadn’t forced one first.

By half-time it was one each. One shot that is.

Burly old-type line leader Danny Kedwell had a clear chance on the angle but was denied by Conrad Logan at the expense of a painful blow between the legs. Gareth Evans struck a 25-yarder late on which had Ross Flitney going full length to save.

It would be remiss too not to mention Tom Newey’s challenge - almost certainly a goal-saving one - on Danny Spiller who had pounced on a rebound 12 yards out.

But change began just after half-time when out-of-sorts Jason Taylor was replaced by Mark Bradley who proceeded to produce his finest display in a Millers shirt. Not to put too fine a point on it, he began to run the show.

Then, on 53 minutes, came a lucky break. Evans deflected the ball for a Gills throw-in but it was given to Rotherham. Seconds later, Danny Schofield was in possession.

He turned left-back Martin several different ways before delivering to the far post where Danny Harrison demonstrated again how he can climb by timing his leap perfectly, seemingly ‘hanging’ up there fractionally, before directing his header back across goal. It rather reminded me of the sort of goal Tim Cahill has scored throughout his career.

It was a really key moment. But another followed on the hour when Gillingham took off a holding midfielder and put on an extra striker.

Instantly, Rotherham swept through midfield with control and purpose for Bradley to fire just wide. Two minutes later, they swarmed goalwards again, Bradley striding forward before slipping Lewis Grabban into the area for a low finish.

With the game plan long since ruined, Gillingham had to have a go and Logan turned over a Rooney effort but you could only see more Millers goals now as Bradley, Schofield and Marcus Marshall caused huge problems.

Bradley set up a great chance Grabban couldn’t take but it mattered not. Within 30 seconds, Schofield set up the rampaging Marshall for a low centre Evans finished off - a deserving goal for a persevering performance, not least amidst the difficulties of the first half.

There was even a debut for Luke Foster who was put up front and almost finished off a Schofield centre before Ryan Cresswell headed over from a corner by which time Gillingham were praying for the final blast.

The fans hadn’t exactly forgotten Alf - they’ll always remember him and his goals - but this was a pretty decent distraction and a reminder they could just get by without him!

Manager’s View

A good 90 minutes and some fantastic football in the second half. You have to battle hard to earn the right to play and we did that. It was a good team performance and second half we were solid, did the simple things, created lots of chances.

After the previous week, the lads responded well. This was our toughest test and we came through with flying colours.

We watched the DVD of the Barnet game to show them where they went wrong. We’ll show them this one so they can see what they were doing right.

I enjoyed watching that and I’m sure our fans did. Terrific football, lots of chances created. I want to enjoy watching my team play; we want to play attacking football, entertain, win and send people away happy.

I’m happy for Adam Le Fondre. He’s been great for this club and been exemplary since I came and been 100 per cent committed to the cause.

He deserves his chance and is going to a good club. He sent a nice text thanking me and the staff for what we’ve done for him.