How Rotherham United ripped up the script on Wayne Rooney's big day

Rotherham were just supposed to be a footnote for their visit to Derby.

Sunday, 17th January 2021, 1:25 pm

The Millers just happened to be the opposition for Wayne Rooney's first game in permanent charge of the Rams, though no one really cared. It could have been anyone who were the visitors at Pride Park.

The 35-year-old had called time on his wonderful playing career on the eve of this game in order to throw himself fully into management and unsurprisingly the focus was all on that.

Perhaps that helped Paul Warne's side as they put in an impressive display to claim a 1-0 win that kickstarts their bid for Championship survival.

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Jamie Lindsay of Rotherham United celebrates after scoring the Millers' goal during the Sky Bet Championship match between Derby County and Rotherham United at Pride Park Stadium. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Jamie Lindsay's 86th-minute goal – a strike from close range – earned the Millers the points on just their second league outing since December 16.

They remain in the relegation zone but have games in hand on all of the teams above them and on this evidence will fancy their chances of reeling some of them in.

They played with their trademark endeavour, they harried, they pressed and they were the better side.

“I'm really pleased, away from home, clean sheet, a goal late on which is my favourite sort because I don't get too excited, managed to see out the last few minutes which we have been criticised for,” Warne said.

“I am really pleased with the performance, I asked the lads for a clean sheet and got it.

“I thought Jamal Blackman was excellent, backed up my 10 lads in front of him. We were the better team, but our goalkeeper worked more than theirs.

“We put some dangerous balls in and in the second half they had more possession, didn't create a great deal and we were lucky with the sucker-punch at the end.”

The Millers had a goal disallowed in the first half for offside, with the referee overruling his linesman to declare Richard Wood the wrong side of the last defender.

Lindsay had a great chance to put his side ahead not long before but squandered it, but made up for it with four minutes remaining, prodding home from close range after Dan Barlaser's shot hit the post.

“I can say this because I told him, he should have scored before that,” Warne said.

“I am really proud of Jamie, he has been excellent this season and he deserves more than that with how he has been playing, he could have had a brace.

“The lads give everything every week and we are obviously going to play against players in the Championship who are better than ours, quicker than ours, I understand that.

“It doesn't mean our lads aren't giving it their all. It's tough for us, we have only had five wins, although we have had some really good performances. The fact we weren't at our best today, I am disappointed with some of our play, I am really pleased with the result.”

It was far from an ideal start to to his reign for Rooney, who pulled no punches in his assessment of his side's under-whelming performance.

"Today Rotherham outfought us," said the former England captain.