SO, at the end of the season and the depressing second half of it, some good news - there’s only one more year left at Don Valley!
Oops, sorry, I mean the Millers finished with an excellent win and in a thoroughly entertaining game too which ended the six match winless run at home.
That first bit would have been something to cling on to had the Millers carried on with the home problems which have proved so damaging right at the end.
Just think, a year from now we’ll be saying and writing our fond (think about it!) farewells to the DVS. Unless it’s needed for the Play-offs!
Fans love to finish with a win in their last home game. Sends them off into that anti-climactic Saturday evening and the ‘long’ close season, in a good mood and a happy frame of mind.
Rotherham followers had almost forgotten what a home win was. February 15 (v Accrington) was the last one.
It seems an awful long time ago. It was even cold then at DVS.
The Millers had jumped back into third place that night. Two games later, they drew at Torquay, ‘murdered’ them throughout the second half and were nine points ahead of the Devon club come the final whistle.
So, really, the damaging slide has been in these final two months. Torquay had come from a long way behind on the back of a run of one defeat in 14. By contrast, Rotherham had won one in 13.
At least Rotherham altered those two sequences and will only muse ruefully that but for a saved penalty in that game at Torquay, they would have taken the place of the Gulls in the Play-offs assuming Saturday’s outcome would still have been the same - but who knows?
We can put forward all sorts of theories for Rotherham’s freefall failure but there have been some injuries to key players at critical times.
You’re not telling me that the absent Nicky Law and Ryan Taylor, in this form, wouldn’t have made a difference in the vital Easter Monday game against Gillingham!
But, that’s all conjecture now. The pressure was off here and they played with a panache that freed them up to go off, enjoy it, express themselves and also fight their corner. Torquay arrived knowing a win guaranteed a top seven spot and even anything else could still be enough.
Which it was. They were always striving, always chasing the game, always vulnerable as a result whilst playing their part in an entertaining game.
When Ryan Taylor stabbed home at the second opportunity from Mark Bradley’s supply after 10 minutes, Rotherham had capped a nice, bright start.
Nicky Law - memo to whoever is his next manager ‘Play him on the left’ - began to take right back Lee Mansell ‘to the cleaners’.
He outpaced him every time on the outside and we just waited for the pay-off as Rotherham played some delightful stuff at times.
Torquay were not slow in responding and Jamie Annerson made a very sharp save from Jake Robinson before a little spell of twists and turns.
Law ‘burned off’ poor Mansell again and ran in along the by-line to the six yard area. However, his centre was just behind Bradley with a goal seemingly inevitable.
Torquay simply raced away upfield at lightning speed and Robinson set up Chris Zebroski to equalise on the half-hour.
Rotherham’s instant response was for Bevan to parry Law’s shot and a corner ensued. From it, none other than Danny Harrison popped up at the far post; his header found Ryan Taylor who set it up for Harrison, spotting the opening, to rattle home from close range.
Ryan Cresswell headed a good chance over from a corner right on half-time and the action continued to be bright, breezy and thoroughly enjoyable with the surprise that another goal or two didn’t follow.
Torquay, throwing on extra or new attackers, strove for the goal they believe they still needed but it was the Millers (with Jason Taylor in centre defence for the final 37 minutes) who got it - and what a memorable moment for young Ollie Banks on his debut.
The 18-year-old midfielder, son of ex-Millers player Ian, went on with 13 minutes left, got his first kick when taking a corner and won’t forget his second one.
Adam Le Fondre set off towards the area and with the whole of Don Valley expecting a shot he switched a neat pass to the left where young Banks dinked a neat little shot past the giant Bevan and inside the near post. Few Millers players will have scored a faster goal (about three minutes’ playing time) on debut.
After six home games without a win and five of them without a goal, it was a welcome finale clearly appreciated by the faithful (and a first win for manager Andy Scott).
Andy Scott’s View
It was a 90 minute performance although there were several things that didn’t quite please me. We were against a side who came here to win and we deserved that win.
I asked them to show me that they should have been in the play-offs or better and I think they proved that.
There was some decent stuff with spells in the first half when we kept the ball well and opened them up nicely.
Ryan Taylor got a good poacher’s goal but got a kick on his foot and with his metatarsal trouble we didn’t want any damage.
Nick Fenton had a sore achilles, Tom Newey and Ian Thomas-Moore not quite there. It was a dream debut for young Ollie Banks who we’ve offered a contract to.