Rotherham 1 Swindon 2: Match Report

Rotherham United FC v Swindon Town FC - Npower League 2 - 14th January 2012 - Stewards have to intervene to ask Paolo Di Canio to sit down as he gets over-excited late in the win over the Millers
Rotherham United FC v Swindon Town FC - Npower League 2 - 14th January 2012 - Stewards have to intervene to ask Paolo Di Canio to sit down as he gets over-excited late in the win over the Millers
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DON’T suppose too many hungry Millers fans went out for an Italian on Saturday night!

They’d have had their fill at the DVS after making a dog’s dinner of this one!

Rotherham United FC v Swindon Town FC - Npower League 2 - 14th January 2012 - Alex Revell pulls one back for Rotherham as he beats Callum Kennedy to head home

Rotherham United FC v Swindon Town FC - Npower League 2 - 14th January 2012 - Alex Revell pulls one back for Rotherham as he beats Callum Kennedy to head home

Hot-blooded Paolo Di Canio, being the character he is, certainly knows passion when he sees it and got a taste late on of the angry, loyal Miller when roused.

They may well have been taking their frustration out on the Swindon manager, a handy target as he became increasingly agitated in the Directors’ Box late on as his side fought to cling onto an increasingly precarious lead.

Standing up, phoning someone, in an all-seated area? There was no shortage of advice for the former darling of Sheffield 6 and stewards certainly stepped in (with advice for him) and even the police materialised from somewhere.

All good fun of course! But what he may not have noticed, though home followers certainly did, were the very first rumblings of discontent from the home faithful about where their side is heading this season.

For a start, it’s not into an automatic, top-three promotion place as the brochure printed in August had promised. Or, at least, suggested.

And as the teams trooped off at half-time, a wide gap illustrated for the final 25 minutes or so after going two down, the frustration was obvious amongst the Millers faithful. Compared with the team fourth top ... well, there wasn’t much comparison and you really did wonder even about their play-off chances.

In the end, they had won back some respect and some belief amongst those same fans with their second-half effort. Swindon, for their part, had been left grateful to hang on.

But it could not, and should not, disguise the fact that this Rotherham United side still looks a distance away from being even a top-seven side.

And it is difficult to try and keep convincing yourself, and anybody else for that matter, when there is consistent failure to beat, or even equal, the sides occupying the leading positions in the table.

It’s possible that Andy Scott misjudged the size of the task.

Or over-estimated what he had and what he was bringing in. For whatever reasons - and there have been plenty, loads of chopping and changing among them - he still looks short of putting together an authentic, promotion-challenging side.

Yes, there certainly is time and a four-point gap (to the play-offs) is next to nothing. But it needs more than talk and mathematical what-ifs.

There has been an air of positivity about Millers followers all season, driven by the new stadium rising in the New York area and by the belief that a real and credible promotion challenge would be forthcoming.

You will certainly never take away the optimism generated by the new ground, the new beginning and the new era that awaits.

But you may not be able to quell the rising disappointment at the failure to fulfill ratcheted-up expectations should a proper play-off challenge fail to materialise.

Of course, football teases and at 3 o’clock here a win for the Millers would put them just three points behind Swindon who were fourth.

But then Matt Ritchie, the young left-footed right-winger who caused so much mayhem down at the County Ground, took a hand.

He pounced on a loose ball created by a typical Paul Benson ‘backing in’ challenge on a defender, to fire home after 19 minutes and, with the game in its 20th minute, he struck a superb second into the far top corner.

Thereafter, Swindon upped their game considerably, shutting the Millers down in all areas of the field. Up to half-time it wasn’t hard to understand how they’d lost only one of their last 20 before this game.

The Millers were stirred up for the second half and Alex Revell, far more effective now, went close with a header from a corner before continuing his remarkable scoring record whenever he plays against Swindon by heading in after splendid work by Chris Holroyd eight minutes into the half.

Swindon were certainly grateful to the efforts of robust central defender Aden Flint who played against the Millers two summers ago for Alfreton Town and looked pretty useful that night.

Even so, it needed a tremendous challenge “from nowhere” by Johnny Mullins to stop Benson knocking home a Ritchie set-up.

Rotherham cranked it up but got no closer than Grabban rattling a post following a corner. Holroyd diverted an effort over, Revell couldn’t get a 15-yarder on target and Swindon desperately manned the decks to keep them clean.

Di Canio, therefore, had the last laugh.

For Scott it was far from a laughing matter and he knows he’s got a job on his hands.