Millers match report: Plymouth Argyle 0 Rotherham United 1

Plymouth v Rotherham United - Npower League 2 - 20th April 2013 - Kieran Agard (left) fires the winner past keeper Jake Cole
Plymouth v Rotherham United - Npower League 2 - 20th April 2013 - Kieran Agard (left) fires the winner past keeper Jake Cole
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Flying? The Millers fans didn’t need a plane.

They were airborne alright! They floated back up the motorway.

They’d headed to the division’s farthest outpost, some 900 of them, and every single one of them craved only one thing - a win.

The mantra of “win the last three and...” was down to two after the epic Battle of Bradford.

The words “just”, “need” and “win” had appeared more than any others in sentences uttered by nervous Millers fans in the days leading up to the game.

But they were going to a ground where “win” had been the least used word for 40 years and more.

Yes, they won there at the start of last season but it had been 17 visits since the previous win at Home Park in 1970. As someone who’s made all those 17 trips since, I can vouch for how difficult Rotherham sides have found it down there across the years.

Few got carried away. Anyway, there are no ‘gimmes’ any more and certainly not when you are up against a side who can clinch their own safety from relegation with a point.

But this Millers side, finally with some sort of stability and coming together in the nick of time, have got their timing just right.

They timed this one right too to put themselves on the brink. Which means tomorrow arrives next Saturday!

That’s because when results weren’t matching expectations and the doubters were surfacing, bss Steve Evans suggested we should wait until Christmas for improvement; then it became January; then watch them go in March. Then, in March, amid top three doubts again, he said, correctly, judge him and everything after 46 games.

So, with a win or a draw at home to Aldershot securing promotion, tomorrow is a few days away!

They’ll be fresher than here. They looked tired and laboured in the first half but there were mitigating factors. The exertions of their huge effort at Bradford had obviously had a draining effect and that was understandable.

That first half was how I recall Rotherham many games down there, particularly the fact they couldn’t seem to fashion much in the way of threatening attacks and very little in the way of opportunities.

But they pulled themselves together at half-time. As if through some collective will in which they said forget the tiredness and go and win it.

Full credit to them. They did just that against a side who were more or less secure if they could retain the point they’d started with.

For Rotherham, they had to factor in the added pressure of ‘chasing’ a win away from home which is never easy. This brings its own frustrations when the balls don’t drop quite right; when things are not quite going your way; when stubborn defending thwarts your ambitions.

Contrast the two games of the week - while it was still goalless at Bradford on a really difficult evening, people were happy enough.

Here, drawing was suddenly ‘not good enough’ although a point would still have been acceptable. It had become all about the win so much talked about.

Pressure, pressure. Suddenly, with 15 minutes to go, the promotion campaign took another significant twist - and then the emphasis changed and it was about defending the lead, not trying to get one.

For Kieran Agard it was another leap into the affections of Millers fans. A bit-part player so far, he has certainly got his timing right in terms of scoring vital goals just lately, even if the Bradford one will ultimately be one of the campaign’s great, fond memories for the nature of it rather than its importance.

It was very much an opportunist effort too. One that he sniffed, sensed, spotted, call it what you will, in that instinctive split second when an opportunity arises.

A deep Joe Skarz free-kick saw Johnny Mullins make a typically committed challenge for the header. The ball dropped down and seemed to be bouncing more or less harmlessly into the six-yard box for Plymouth to sort out one way or another.

But Agard reacted positively because he spotted his chance and took it, hooking his leg around a defender and, consequently, hooking a shot past a startled keeper.

The fact it happened right in front of the splendid Millers following only made it more joyous for all concerned.

It would have been some relief too to Agard who had earlier put a decent headed chance wide.

Also to Lee Frecklington who, at the end of the first half, was set up with a clear opening you’d back him to finish nine times out of 10 only for the keeper to divert his shot wide.

And also to Alex Revell who’d put a six-yard chance inches wide five minutes into the second half by which time Rotherham had already established a control of the sort they hadn’t quite managed before the break.

Plymouth, having beaten Cheltenham, Exeter and Fleetwood in their last three home games, are considerably improved under John Sheridan, and Guy Branston, who swapped a big pre-match salute with Millers fans,has been a big part.

He’s played 16 on the trot (a measly four bookings!) and his straightforward, no-nonsense defending (no rashness) did more than anyone to keep his old club at bay.

But Rotherham had their own defensive heroes who have stepped forward at this business end of the season.

All did their bit here but - with due respect to anyone else - I reckon had Craig Morgan not missed four months they’d have been promoted at least a couple of games ago.

He was so steady again. Claude Davis has done the business alongside and Skarz has proved an excellent signing. Kari Arnason was again class and quality.

The final stages saw Argyle throw on an extra striker and go for it.

Several times, amid some real scary, loose-ball moments, the Millers showed their commitment as players threw themselves bravely in front of shots - each block equally vital. They were not to be breached.

It was a white-knuckle ride but that’s a roller-coaster for you!It pulls up at the New York Stadium next Saturday and what an occasion that’s going to be!

It’s a few days away and Millers fans can’t wait for tomorrow!