THE all-pervading whiff of curry (and the one I had afterwards in Bradford was delicious thank you very much) was overpowered by the sweet scent of victory.
The Millers had it in their nostrils from the start and I’m just glad for their sakes, and for whatever justice there is in football, that they didn’t mess it up at the end, although they had the much-maligned Conrad Logan to thank for that.
It’s now six unbeaten and was a very important win because it gives them a sniff of those play-off places three points away rather than being ensconced further back in the bottom half.
Their own footballing menu for the day was, like that curry, one of the better ones.
You might say they were madras hot in the first 20 minutes, korma mild for 15 minutes or so up to half-time and positively vindaloo from the start of the second half when, effectively, they won the game with their two-goal burst in six minutes.
They would, of course, have spilt those three points but for Logan’s penalty save from what was the very last kick (apart from the delighted keeper then wellying the ball downfield with the whistle blowing as it landed).
The lesson the Millers will certainly have learned, and had it pointed out had they not already realised, is don’t give a sucker a break when you’ve got the ball near the corner flag in stoppage time.
Not once but twice they had the opportunity to eat up a bit of time and each time coughed up possession by crossing the ball. Each time Bradford ended up getting penalties when the ball was sent to the other end.
At 3-1 up, and the Millers fully deserving it too,
the game entered its three minutes of stoppage time and one can understand Alex Revell’s feelings when he had the ball near the corner flag. He was thinking of a fourth goal rather than waste time - anyway, it was a two-goal lead not hanging on to one.
But his cross went to the keeper, he booted it long, it wasn’t cleared and then ended up landing on the arm of Jason Taylor. Michael Flynn fired the spot-kick down the middle to make it 3-2.
It couldn’t happen could it? Well, we thought not as Tom Newey ran off down the left wing in the final added minute. He appeared to be heading for the safe haven of the corner flag and to run
down the final seconds. But he decided to cross the ball, Bradford got it, belted forwards and won a corner which ended with Flynn’s shot striking Newey’s hand or arm.
Another penalty and the victory looked to have been thrown away.
But the penalty gods (and Bradford have won three penalty shoot-outs in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy this season) deserted them this time. Or rather Flynn went for placement second time round and Logan dived to his left to effectively become Rotherham’s match-winning hero.
That he should celebrate in front of the 800 Millers fans after the whistle was understandable. He’s had some stick over his recent errors so he was fully entitled to join in with the rest of the glee club here.
Lewis Grabban had slotted his penalty into that same left-hand corner after 20 minutes - his 12th of the season - to crown a promising and vibrant Rotherham start.
They might have opened with a goal inside 70 seconds when Danny Harrison came flying in to meet a corner and his header was blocked right on the line - or over it had it been the linesman who boobed on that Bradford ‘goal that never was’ at the very same end in this fixture last season!
Brett Williams - in for the ill Chris Holroyd - almost turned in a Dale Tonge cross and City made just one real mark early on with Jon Harley clearing off the line before the Grabban opener.
The award was for handball following a cross from Williams who worked tirelessly for the cause on his first start of the season.
Bradford forged a way into the game and Rotherham were under pressure by the time young Jack Compton glided past Tonge to set up Chris Mitchell’s headed equaliser.
Marcus Marshall went close with an overhead kick and neither defence, to be fair, had looked convincing in the first half. But Rotherham tightened up after the break and took a firm grip before the hour mark.
Revell, linking with Danny Schofield, fired in off a post on 51 minutes and after Harrison’s shot had been denied a goal by Williams a couple of yards out, Marshall made it 3-1 after McLaughlin turned aside a low drive by the increasingly influential Schofield.
Being 3-1 up helps, of course, but there looked to be a greater togetherness about Rotherham’s work overall in all areas.
Late on they let City have some encouraging glimpses of goal but, to be fair, no-one really envisaged the ending that was in store.