Match report: Rotherham United 4 Exeter City 1

Daniel Nardiello goes close as he beats Craig Woodman in the air.
Daniel Nardiello goes close as he beats Craig Woodman in the air.
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Millers manager Steve Evans had an overview, rather than a touchline view, of the night’s proceedings and saw his side keep their top three automatic promotion pot boiling.

Evans, reportedly the subject of an FA touchline ban, which he would neither confirm or deny, watched from the directors’ box, alongside Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, as his side took Exeter apart with a three goal salvo in the first half.

It was the perfect response to the defeat at Morecambe and when faced with the first of two ‘must-win” home games this week, this one against a promotion rival.

Off to a great start in just 90 seconds, they proved too much for Exeter and it was all over, with a four goal lead just after half-time.

Evans had certainly sent out an attacking line-up including top scorer Nardiello whose absence on Saturday had been queried so strongly by Millers followers.

Left out, said Evans, because of his three previous performances, the onus was clearly now back on the striker to perform. He was back up front with Revell but the duo were mere admirers when the Millers got off to a flying start and just the sort they needed against the team a place and a point behind them.

Pringle was both provider and scorer inside 90 seconds!

With typical tenacity, he closed in swiftly on Bennett in midfield, robbed him, set off through the middle and although Nardiello was moving into space, Pringle trusted himself and struck a low left footer from around 22 yards which beat Krysiak to his left.

Against a side who had won 11 times away from home, it was just what Rotherham needed.

The Grecians were soon in trouble again and Nardiello set up Agard but, eight yards out, he couldn’t make clean contact and the effort was deflected wide.

Pringle had the chance to find the unmarked Nardiello moving into the area but tried to go himself and was shut out. Rotherham kept causing problems and Exeter survived when Morgan’s header was nudged aside to Agard but he couldn’t get his effort on target when he seemed set to finish off.

But the second goal was not long delayed and when it came, on 28 minutes, it just had to be Nardiello against his old club. Out on the left he linked with Pringle who played a lovely, instant first time pass back to Nardiello who moved in at an angle and calmly beat keeper Krysiak at his near post.

It got better two minutes later. Pringle chased Revell’s ball out to the left, got his centre in first time and when it was headed out, O’Connor met it outside the area and his shot got a deflection as it flashed past Krysiak.

There was almost a superb fourth. Tonge did well to win the ball deep in his own half, moved forward and struck a delightful diagonal ball and as it dropped inch perfect beyond Dawson and Nardiello went for a first time half volley and it would have been a wonderful goal had it gone in.

The visitors had to do something at half-time and did. They made two substitutions, changed formation which included a partner, O’Flynn, for top scorer Cureton up front and went on the offensive.

But six minutes into the half, and from their first threat, Rotherham killed the game off and any Exeter thoughts of a comeback.

It followed a free-kick, Nardiello nodded back into the danger area and it was a delighted Morgan who gleefully thumped home a volley in front of the North End. It was his first goal for the Millers.

The job done, Rotherham eased through the rest of the evening as the Grecians tried to rescue something from the wreckage and they managed it with 13 minutes left when Coles headed in a Davies corner. But defeat meant they dropped out of the play-offs, replaced by Bradford City who the Millers visit next Tuesday.

*ROTHERHAM UNITED: Shearer; Tonge, Arnason, Morgan, Skarz; Agard (Ainsworth 70),O’Connor (Frecklington 83), Noble, Pringle; Revell (Odejayi 77), Nardiello. Subs: Warrington,Ridehalgh, Rose, Rowe.

*EXETER CITY: Krysiak; Dawson (Keohane ht), Baldwin, Coles, Woodman; Molesley (O’Flynn ht), Doherty (Rodgers 70), Bennett, Davies; D’Ath; Cureton. Subs: Bauza, Evans, Reid, Moore-Taylor.

*Goals: Pringle (2), Nardiello (28), O’Connor (30), Morgan (51) for Rotherham; Coles (77) for Exeter.

*Referee: Scott Duncan (Newcastle).

*Attendance: 6,703