TOM POPE: After his midweek problems off the field, Pope gave a wholehearted display. Didn’t seem to mind some confrontational verbals with keeper Adam Bartlett early on.
OLD manager, caretaker manager, new manager. It’s not made that much difference inasmuch as the Millers have failed to score in a home game under all of them in the past month or so.
As for this one, I’m not sure they could have done much more had it been Sir Alex or Jose Mourinho standing on the far side directing operations.
Andy Scott waved his arms, directed, cajoled, shouted, implored almost pleaded. In the end, like the rest of us, he ended up frustrated.
The Millers couldn’t have actually done much more to secure a much-needed win. Just about the only extra they could have supplied was the win itself and, goodness knows, they were close enough on numerous occasions.
But that old combination of a variety of things ... bad luck, wrong options, a touch extra quality, allied to stubborn and determined defending meant it was another blank at home.
That’s four without scoring in the last five (winless) games at home.
If, and when, we do get round to analysing why they missed out on the play-offs, this little spell (and such luminaries as Barnet, Morecambe and Hereford have figured in it) will have to loom large.
Of course, depending on whether your glass is half full or half empty, the play-offs were actually no further away nor no nearer at the end, because everybody else drew as well.
But if we all entered the ground reckoning that a win was absolutely essential, then we can hardly think everything is hunky-dory after it just because nobody else won. It’s a game further on and only four to go.
The egg-timer has very little sand left in it.
Hereford may have won eight away, been vastly improved of late and now have five clean sheets out of six, but the amount of possession and pressure Rotherham had needs to have a pay-off how ever stubbornly the opposition defend.
Scott will watch his new charges, over how ever long he remains here, have less than 50 per cent of the attacking possession they had here and still win with something to spare.
But whilst we can all fall back on the “it was one of those days” excuse, the new boss will have gone into it much more deeply than that and worked out where there could have been improvements.
He’ll also be working out his strategy and likely personnel further down the line.
With 11 players out of contract, the new boss gets an early opportunity to put together and mould his own side come the summer.
This 11 included EIGHT players who were signed under the Mark Robins reign or, as in Ryan Taylor’s case, were already there. Ryan Cresswell, Tom Newey and Mark Bradley were this season’s additions.
Last year was a near miss, this time looks like being a miss (okay, it still can be a hit), so Scott may make a pretty quick assessment that change is needed.
So many out of contract offers that opportunity. He may want to keep some (certainly Ryan Taylor springs to mind) but Scott has already hinted that things will happen and you can be sure that no new manager is going to re-sign all 11 en bloc when he’s got the chance to bring in his own men, his own fancies.
Rotherham’s worrying second-half-of-the-season slump has been as close to relegation form, in terms of a points return, as you can get.
On that basis alone, it might be reckoned that something needs to change.
If they suddenly pluck out four wins now and tag another three games on the end as well, then absolutely fine. But you reckon that the new man is eyeing up his own men in several positions.
To be fair, they couldn’t have done much more here.
Infused by the new boss’s obvious desire for a winning start, they swarmed all over Hereford, the play positive and decisive and the ball heading into the opposition area with more purpose and less delay than has been the case at times.
Hereford, notably through experienced central defenders Mike Townsend and Stefan Stam, were pretty defiant, although sometimes it can, strange as it seems, be a case of the more pressure you
have, the more opposition shirts fill the penalty area and the less space/more obstacles, there is/are.
Listing all the near things or the danger moments would fill the page. But you couldn’t fault the effort or the desire for the breakthrough. And it only needed the one goal.
Cresswell had a header cleared off the line and headed inches wide from a long throw whilst Bradley, preferred on the right to Marcus Marshall and justifying it, missed his kick after some Nicky Law trickery.
When a Law effort rebounded off the keeper’s chest, Ryan Taylor thumped back the loose ball from eight yards only for Stam to superbly throw himself in front of it.
Rotherham caused problems from corners (which rose into double figures) with Cresswell and Danny Harrison off target and Nick Fenton and Cresswell forcing saves from Adam Bartlett.
There was even a breakaway with a 4 v 2 advantage that they couldn’t profit from and, as we saw with Barnet and Morecambe, the longer the game went goalless, the more determined and desperate the defending became.
Hereford weren’t without attacking ambition either and Joe Colbeck’s effort from a narrow angle struck the near post in the second half.
Adam Le Fondre, sent on with 20 minutes left, hooked a close-range overhead kick goalwards and it was one of those where it flew straight into the keeper’s arms whilst a bit either side and he wouldn’t have sniffed it.
Hereford always seemed to get a boot or head on to those loose balls bobbling about in the box and Rotherham’s last throw was deep in stoppage time when Ryan Taylor’s header was cleared off the line by Colbeck.
The must-win bandwagon moves on next Friday night now to Northampton who have slipped into the relegation battle because haven’t been able to beat anybody for the last 16 games. Surely, they couldn’t could they?
That’s as dominant a side as I’ve seen in a League Two game in my time as a manager. We created so many chances and had countless things blocked, clearances off the line and things not quite bouncing right for us. Everything conspired against us, I think.
But the boys were fantastic and did all I asked of them; they gave everything and I think the crowd appreciated that. There are times when it doesn’t drop for you and I think this was one of them.
They took things on board and implemented them but there are a few areas we need to tighten up on.
But, for me, I couldn’t have asked any more from them. On another day it could have been three or four.
I’d like to thank the supporters for a great reception at the start. I can assure them I shall be doing my very best for this club.