Match report: Shrewsbury Town 0 Rotherham United 3

Ben Pringle fires Rotherham into a two-goal lead.
Ben Pringle fires Rotherham into a two-goal lead.
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They’ve been threatening to do this for a while: sort the opposition out and virtually finish them off after dominating early on.

This time they did it and how! Shrewsbury, most definitely bothered and certainly bewildered, were outclassed in a devastating first 20 minutes.

The Millers turned it on with passing and movement the home side simply couldn’t handle.

By twenty past three it was 3-0. It could have been more. This time there was no “we should have ...” It was the eighth away win already and the fifth in the last six away games.

In two of those, at Stevenage and Coventry, they’d sorted matters out, ie a 3-0 lead, with time to spare - with 25 minutes left in the first case and 17 to go in the second. Some going, particularly away from home.

But here it was done and dusted with 70 still to play. Shrewsbury, struggling at home, knew there was no way back, although they didn’t chuck in the towel and had a good go for the first 15 minutes after half-time.

But, asked at half-time for a clean sheet, Rotherham duly delivered with solid defending when required, with Miles Addison clearly benefitting from another outing.

Alongside him, Mark Bradley - in for sickness victim Kari Arnason - again demonstrated his versatility.

If the only disappointment was not adding to their tally in the second half then, at three up, Millers followers can live with that. Strange, but a team three up at half-time often doesn’t kick on with the job virtually done.

For Shrewsbury it was a sixth straight home defeat and they clearly have problems. Their veteran manager, Graham Turner, stood all alone - almost like a captain on the bridge of a sinking ship - in his technical area, defiantly trying to urge some life into his shell-shocked players in what was, for them, a horrific opening spell.

Steve Evans barely had to appear much at all (he shot out when a clear penalty wasn’t given) as the Millers won for the first time in six visits to this ground - the last five of them defeats. In fact, Shrewsbury have been a bit of a bogey team. Rotherham hadn’t won any of the last 11 meetings. They sorted that one out sharpish.

Perhaps Evans was reflecting that it was here he took charge of a Rotherham team for the first time back in April 2012.

There are just two survivors from that starting 11 of Taylor; Tonge, Cresswell, Mullins, Newey; Evans, Taylor, Pringle, Schofield; Grabban, Revell. One is left from the bench - Bradley.

Don’t suppose any Millers fan would swap that side for the current one, would they?

That April 2012 side scored an even quicker goal than Saturday’s ninth-minute opener from the head of Tom Hitchcock, from James Tavernier’s cross. But they lost 3-1. This lot never looked like doing anything other than win.

That early goal was the last thing Shrewsbury needed in view of their recent disastrous home run. When, a minute later, Adam Collin got lucky when Tom Eaves shot went through his fingers and hit a post, the home side were denied the instant response which would have lifted them.

But I doubt they would have held off the Millers who would have added another but for a blinding save denying Bradley’s header.

The second arrived shortly afterwards. Tavernier had again rampaged down the right for a shot saved. Hitchcock’s centre to Revell beyond the far post was played back towards the edge of the area for Pringle.

Under pressure, and despite the ball popping up off his body to what seemed an awkward height, he waved that wand of a left foot to despatch what seemed an almost nonchalant volley. It was a class finish.

The recent additions have sharpened and improved the side. An example of this was the third goal, with players on exactly the same wavelength.

Tavernier played the ball to Hitchcock, carried on his run and the first time pass - the old one-two if you like - was exactly what the right-back wanted and expected, right into his path. He finished it off gleefully.

It was the sort of understanding that one can see only developing and improving throughout the side.

At that stage, you fancied Rotherham scoring a few more. Only two bits of desperate defending by Dave Winfield denied Kieran Agard and Hitchcock.

Perhaps inevitably, the foot did ease off the pedal towards half-time, one or two indulgent flicks crept in that shed possession but right on half-time Pringle was so close to a fourth with a 22-yard free-kick against the bar.

With nothing to lose, Shrewsbury came out after half-time with attacking intent and, for 15 minutes, Rotherham had some defending to do, but with nothing more than some hurried clearances to concern them.

The key was that they didn’t slacken off . Agard once made 60 yards back to his own area to deflect behind a cross from ex-Millers loanee Eaves who found it difficult to make any sort of impact.

The half was something of an anti-climax but it was a chance to give new signing Wes Thomas half an hour’s run-out after two sudden appearances on the touchline by boss Evans which appeared to be in connection with what Hitchcock, otherwise impressive, didn’t do.

He was the one replaced - timely as it turned out after a booking following a spat with Mkandawire - but an explanation may soon be forthcoming to the striker, perhaps today!

The other newcomer, England Under-19 winger Blair Turgott from West Ham, got a few minutes at the end by which time the only real chance had just come and gone.

Lee Frecklington, nipping onto a back-pass, went round the keeper. Strikes from 20-odd yards, on the run, or pressure penalties are no problem, but we might just have found a weakness in his finishing armoury as he failed to roll the ball into an empty net from 10 yards.

A pity, it would have rounded things off perfectly.