Rotherham United 1 AFC Bournemouth 5 FA Cup match verdict

Despair for the Millers
Despair for the Millers
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For 13 second-half minutes, the destruction of Rotherham United was clinical, shocking and without mercy.

For the full nine minutes of his post-match analysis,Millers assistant manager Paul Raynor was equally brutal.

Not good enough. And some of the men taken apart by AFC Bournemouth in that devastating spell between the 58th and 71st minutes are likely to pay the ultimate price.

“Some players who have come in to that side today have proved that, moving forward, they may not have a future at the football club,” Raynor said.

Rotherham were without three of the loan players who have done so much to lift their Championship performances in the last month for this FA Cup third-round tie. Attackers Tom Lawrence and Emmanuel had departed during the week at the end of their spells and defender Scott Wootton was denied permission to play by parent club Leeds United

“It’s showed us that when we’ve lost the three loan boys, when we’ve lost the talent of Lawrence and Ledesma and Wootton, it leaves a big hole,” Raynor added.

“There’ll be changes. The transfer window is now open. We’ll make changes, we will be better, we will improve, and that process isn’t just going to start this week. That process started a couple of weeks ago. The calls are already in. We’re hoping for positive feedback.”

On Saturday in came Richard Brindley, Paul Green and Ben Pringle to join the players who had drawn 1-1 at Blackpool last Saturday as manager Steve Evans kept faith with the front-two pairing of Jordan Bowery and Jonson Clarke-Harris in the sickness absence of Alex Revell.

The visitors, flying high at the top of the Championship and looking a decent bet to make the Premier League, weren’t forced into changes, but made them anyway - eight different starters from their previous game, with a bench as strong as any you’ll see for a second-tier side this season as key men were rested.

If I can be brutal and without mercy myself for a second, you could say the Millers were beaten by Bournemouth’s reserves. At least it came in a cup competition and not the all-important league campaign.

The Cherries’ real team comes calling again at New York Stadium in search of three points a week on Saturday.

Gulp.

Raynor didn’t enjoy his Saturday afternoon and knew his night wasn’t about to get any better.

“We haven’t had a lot of chance to look at the goals on the DVD yet,” he said around tea-time. “I’m sure I’ll be going over and over them tonight with the Gaffer, I’ve no doubt about that. I’ll be sick of seeing how bad the defending was.

“Just through seeing it live, some of the defending was absolutely awful, and (goalkeeper) Adam Collin has had no protection at all. He’s pulled off a couple of great saves. It was a poor defensive performance.”

Yesterday morning won’t have been much fun for the players either as Evans called them in early for a review of the same video nasty.

It will have shown the Millers were competitive in the first half and took the lead in the 10th minute when Brindley’s low 20-yard shot evaded Cherries keeper Lee Camp’s outstretched right hand with the help of a deflection.

It looked like Ian Harte’s free-kick from similar distance a minute earlier had found the Millers net only for the officials to rule it hadn’t crossed the line, but any potential controversy was killed off by the visitors’ subsequent five-goal salvo.

Junior Stanislas missed a 26th-minute sitter when clean through for Bournemouth and Clarke-Harris’ poor first touch ended the danger when he was played through for the home side, before Shaun McDonald rounded off a period of sustained Bournemouth passing with a well-taken 44th-minute equaliser.

Since Evans went less direct and embraced a pass-and-move philosophy the Millers, in spells, have played some lovely stuff.

Here it was laid out for them in the second half just how good it can be, and the Rotherham management team weren’t slow to catch on.

“They’ve got a particular way of playing. We’ve tried to play in the same style, with the same blend. We’ve changed our tack in terms of how we’re trying to play the game,” Raynor said.

“We’ve just said to the boys in there ‘if that’s passing and moving and keeping possession and doing it with penetration, there’s the blueprint for us moving forward and trying to get better’. It was a real lesson.”

If you can’t beat them, copy them. And no-one should be against that philosophy.

Raynor added: “We didn’t keep the ball well enough second half. We lacked penetration. When we’re trying to play through teams as opposed to just going a little bit more direct, as we have done in previous years, if you keep losing the ball and giving it back to good players, you’ve got a real problem.

“We couldn’t really get through the midfield, we couldn’t get into attacking areas of the pitch. We got forced back and when you get players of the quality of Bournemouth’s getting that amount of possession you’re going to get problems.”

Stanislas atoned in the 58th minute for his earlier miss and further goals came from the nippy Ryan Fraser (63) and Yann Kermorgant (67, 71) as the Millers defence was shredded by good passing and a killer final ball.

This was a record defeat at the AESSEAL New York Stadium, and the Millers had last lost an FA Cup tie by a 5-1 margin 17 years ago to the day, when a then-little-known striker called Kevin Phillips scored four of Sunderland’s goals at Millmoor.

Raynor picked up the pieces and said: “The window is now open. It will be a different Bournemouth team when they come here on the 17th and I can guarantee you now - and I can say this with a real certainty - it will certainly be a different Rotherham United team that plays in that game, and hopefully before that against Brentford next Saturday.

“There’ll be a different side, a different outlook, a different hunger and there’ll be changes, I can guarantee you that.

“The manager, I know, had a very productive meeting with the chairman on Friday.

“He (chairman Tony Stewart) was very positive in his backing for what we are going to try to do in terms of players being made available and leaving the football club and obviously additions to come in through the door and make us better.

“I think it was a very, very positive meeting. We’ll move forward with that and hopefully we’ll have positive news early next week.”

Second string or not, this was a quality Bournemouth side, one that would be good enough to thrive in the Championship in its own right.

Every player was comfortable in possession, they played with speed and precision all over the pitch, got men behind the ball when they needed to and were pressing Millers opponents as hungrily in the final minute as they were in the first.

Two-goal Kermorgant stood out with his control and vision. Cup and sorcerer.

The game was up, but there were still chances for the Millers towards the end.

Reece James, the loanee left-back allowed to play by Manchester United, skied his effort when he should have scored in the 80th minute, Lee Frecklington shot over a minute later, then, in time added on, came substitute Matt Derbyshire’s big moment.

Brindley did really well to drive down the right and deliver the perfect cross. There was Derbyshire alone in front of an open goal, so at least a tiny crumb of comfort would be that the striker would finally tap in his first goal in open play for the club.

No, over the bar, and a dismal afternoon encapsulated in one sorry second.

Rotherham United (4-4-2): Collin 6, Brindley 6, Morgan 5, Arnason 6, James 5, Frecklington 6, Smallwood 6, Green 5, Pringle 5 (Skarz 63, 5), Bowery 5, Clarke-Harris 5 (Derbyshire 63, 5). Subs: Loach, Wood, Richardson, Newton, Yates.

AFC Bournemouth (4-1-4-1): Camp 6, Smith 8, Cargill 8, Cook 9, Harte 7, O’Kane 8, Stanislas 8 (Cornick 71), McDonald (Pitman 82) 7, Gosling 7, Frazer 8 (Ritchie 88), Kermorgant 9. Subs: Flahavan, Francis, Surman, Wilson.

Hero: Some days there just aren’t any. A rare bright spot was Richard Brindley’s first goal for the club, but assistant boss Paul Raynor wasn’t happy with some of the right-back’s defending.

Key moment: Shaun MacDonald’s 44th-minute equaliser. Bournemouth’s class would in all likelihood have told in the end anyway, but leading 1-0 at half-time would have given the Millers some kind of second-half platform.

Viewpoint: Proof, not that any was required, that pass and move is the way forward at this level. Steve Evans’ eyes don’t tell him lies and he knows some players must be replaced. January will be a busy and crucial month as the Rotherham boss signs and sheds.

Ref watch: Neil Swarbrick (Preston). Premier League referee. Probably got the Ian Harte free-kick ‘goal’ verdict wrong but was assured and on the mark in pretty much everything else he did.

Manager’s view: Paul Raynor (Millers No 2): “We felt all right for 45 minutes. But after that that was certainly far from the case. You have to take defeats from time to time but the manner of the performances in the second half was not something we’re used to seeing. It’s not something that we find easy to deal with, but we will deal with it, and we’ll deal with it by analysing the 95 minutes, never mind just the second half, because we need to be better.”

Manager’s view: Eddie Howe: “I think it underlined the strength in our squad. It was a slightly scrappy first half where we weren’t at our best early in the game but the lads turned on the style in the second half. It was a really enjoyable game to watch and we were clinical in front of goal. We’re very pleased. A lot of the players haven’t had the football that they would want. I thought once we scored our first goal it gave us the confidence to go on, and in the second half we played with real freedom. We have always maintained that we have a very strong group of players and we believe everyone in our squad is big enough to come in and play. They highlighted that.”

Attendance: 5,875 (556).