Match Report: Rotherham 0 Barnet 0

Rotherham United v Barnet. Marcus Marshall tangles with Mark Marshall
Rotherham United v Barnet. Marcus Marshall tangles with Mark Marshall
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SO, what has a game in Colombia and this one at Don Valley Stadium got in common? It’s feathers!

The flying variety across in South America and the spittin’ of ’em by Millers fans over here!

Rotherham United v Barnet. Adam Le Fondre powers past his marker

Rotherham United v Barnet. Adam Le Fondre powers past his marker

Over in Colombia, one player has been banned after giving a kicking to, and fatally injuring, the opposing team’s owl mascot.

I don’t know how many times he kicked the poor creature but there would have been nowhere near the number of feathers that were left lying around the DVS exits at Saturday tea-time.

Millers fans stomped off in frustration. It’s understandable.

After all, a team going for automatic promotion should beat the one second bottom; one that has won only once away from home; one that has conceded, on average, almost two goals a game away from home, with only two teams having conceded more than their 32 away.

No ifs or buts ... although I suppose anybody would overlook the fact Barnet have now lost only one of their last seven away from home (wish the Millers had that recent away record over the same period!)

Oh ... if only football was that simple. If only Barnet had turned up, reckoned they’d no chance and rolled over and had their tummy tickled before being booted aside rather like that unlucky owl!.

Perhaps fellow promotion-chasers Bury, bombing along right now and visitors to DVS next Saturday, are still wondering how, after sorting out everybody else, they lost home and away to rock-bottom Stockport!

These things happen and they happened to Rotherham because they didn’t get in front when dominating the first half.

That’s where the vital dropped two points were lost not in a second half when they clearly lacked a bit of zip and energy - a fact even pointed out by the opposing manager, Paul Fairclough, who reckoned the midweek game and the long trip to Torquay could just have taken a toll ... “It happens,” he said.

But, excuses aside, the Millers set things up in the first half but weren’t ruthless enough and, in critical moments it has to be said, not good enough.

There was no complacency. There was no “it’s only Barnet, we’ll sort it”; no sloppy attitude.

Instead, they went for it but failed to make their possession and pressure count, came up against a fine goalkeeper and against some spirited defending.

And the longer the game went at 0-0, the more confident and determined Barnet (battling for their league lives) became. As Rotherham’s levels drooped in the second half, so Barnet’s rose.

In the end, after some rather punchless attacking efforts throughout the 90 minutes, the visitors can point to two stoppage-time moments when they could have snatched a dramatic win.

They didn’t do because Andy Warrington produced goalkeeping of the highest quality. They say it’s hardest for a keeper when he’s had nowt to do all game but still has to keep those concentration levels full on.

Well, in the first minute of stoppage time a 30-yarder from sub Jordan Parkes would have arrowed under the bar but for Warrington’s tip over.

That was a relief but a bigger puffing of cheeks came in the fifth and final minute with his brilliant denial of a shot from diminutive Sam Deering, a busy little midfielder who had scurried around like a Jack Russell terrier all afternoon.

So, it could have been a disaster right at the end and had either gone in then I reckon Millers fans would have choked on those feathers before even getting the chance to spit ’em out!

“Get out of the blocks quickly,” had been the Millers mantra beforehand and they did so.

To be fair, had they got one goal there wouldn’t have been any doubt as to the outcome. The problem was the one!

As the half unfolded, you just sensed that it might not be Rotherham’s day whilst also reckoning that, surely, they would get one at some stage and that Barnet wouldn’t keep denying them.

But goalkeeper Jake Cole - apparently well-rated down London way - continued his recent excellent form when denying Tom Newey and a John Mullins header.

He got lucky when Nick Fenton’s ‘nick’ five yards out from a free-kick went straight into his hands when either side would have been a goal and he should have had no chance when Jason Taylor ran onto namesake Ryan’s header only to flop a weak effort into his grateful arms.

But Rotherham couldn’t break through. Surely they would in the second half and Jason Taylor flashed a 20-yarder narrowly wide at the start of it.

When Barnet then immediately lost skipper and central defender Anwar Uddin to injury, it seemed to be pointing Rotherham towards the win. Except that big right-back Clovis Kamdjo switched into centre defence and proceeded to win everything pumped forward - and, if he didn’t, then the excellent Joe Devera (successfully converted recently from right-back and, apparently, playing superbly in centre defence) did so.

At times some Rotherham players looked as if they were running through sand which, a quick pitch inspection would have confirmed, they were doing in places! The surface was certainly a hindrance, you have to say that!.

But Rotherham slowly sagged, not helped by Tom Newey’s 68th-minute dismissal after a skirmish with Izale McLeod who held on to the ball whilst the left-back tried to get it, the Rotherham man then red-carded for what referee Geoff Eltringham told me afterwards was “violent conduct”.

He didn’t wish to elaborate but, when asked if any punches had been thrown, he said there had been.

It happened over near the dug-outs, much too far away for me to see anything clearly, although Newey did appear to push McLeod in his frustration at the Barnet man keeping hold of the ball.

So, the only thing for it was to check out the TV highlights on Saturday night and, looking for a punch, I certainly didn’t see one or anything resembling one. Perhaps the ref - apparently advised of the punch by a linesman (who said to me “he pushed him then gave him a dig”) - will look closely at the video, but not many of them back-track.

It was Eltringham’s 12th red card in 23 matches - and he’s dished out over 60 yellow cards as well.

Although he could hardly leave Liam Henderson out in view of his previous two displays, perhaps - with the advantage of hindsight - Ronnie Moore might reckon it would have been more potentially penetrative against such opposition to have started with Omar Daley (ineligible at Bradford tomorrow as is loan ‘swap’ Kevin Ellison).

The Jamaican sub’s moment when he came on was after the breaking up of a Barnet attack and a run from his on half but his piledriver was blocked by Devera with Nicky Law’s follow-up also blocked by the lunging Mark Hughes.

Manager’s View

When you are on top then you’ve got to punish teams and we didn’t. We played some good stuff in the first half and should have made it count. The pitch is heavy, there’s sand all over but that’s not an excuse because we were on top and didn’t take our opportunities.

Then at the end we’re grateful for a couple of great saves from ‘Woggy’.

The sending off was a joke. I was right there and there wasn’t a punch thrown. The linesman told the ref there was but you want refs getting the big decisions right.

I hope they’re honest when they look at the video and admit there was no punch.