Rotherham United: Will Vaulks’ goal and verdict on the new boys ... Millers 2 Wolves 2

The Will Vaulks somersault
The Will Vaulks somersault
Have your say

One paragraph into the new season and already the first cliche. This was a game of two halves.

The new era under boss Alan Stubbs got off to the perfect start at a packed AESSEAL New York Stadium as two goals inside 20 minutes put the Millers in control on Championship opening day against Wolves.

But Stubbs’ men slowly let the game slip from their grasp and the visitors fought back for a draw, their equaliser coming in the 65th minute when they were down to 10 men after the sending-off of Dominic Iorfa.

Plenty to be encouraged about in that sizzling opening spell. A few things to worry about after that.


Stubbs is introducing a passing style, asking his players to back themselves with the ball. It looked great when it worked but, with so many people pushing forward, centre-halves Kirk Broadfoot and Richard Wood were exposed on occasion.

Danny Ward scores the opener

Danny Ward scores the opener

“It’s not going to happen overnight with how I want the team to play, it is going to take a little bit of time,” Stubbs said. “But I think the early signs for me are positive in terms of I have got something to build on.

“I’m not going to comment on a previous manager’s style of play, it would be wrong for me to do that, but this is different to what they have been used to. They need to trust themselves.”

In the baking heat at New York - just as it always seems to rain on bank holidays, the first day of the season always brings glorious weather - no-one was hotter than Will Vaulks.


New boy Jon Taylor

New boy Jon Taylor

After Danny Ward had scored with a well-placed header from Anthony Forde’s corner in the ninth minute, Vaulks, making his debut after a move from Falkirk, smashed in a 20th-minute 25-yard screamer.

But Wolves gave themselves a lifeline six minutes before half-time, George Saville taking advantage of a defensive mix-up to nip in, round Lee Camp and turn the ball in for a goal Walter Zenga’s side didn’t deserve.

A man light after Iorfa’s 52nd-minute dismissal for impeding Jon Taylor as Rotherham’s record buy raced clear, they played their best football.

Until then, the influence of the Iceman - Jon Dadi Bodvarrson, a star of Euro 2016 - had melted away in the soaring temperatures, but now the centre-forward showed his class, whipping the ball across Camp and into the top far corner after a pass from game-changing substitute Joao Teixeira.

Anthony Forde on his debut

Anthony Forde on his debut

Rotherham, playing 4-3-3, will be disappointed they didn’t threaten more against a team at a numerical disadvantage. This was a good time to play Wolves, in a state of flux after the arrival of a foreign manager and before their new wealthy Chinese owners start spending big bucks on transfers.

So, as this report moves well into the second half, cliche No 2. It’s often harder to play against 10 men.


Stubbs handed starts to Vaulks, Forde, Taylor and Jake Forster-Caskey.

Vaulks had a bit of everything: a good engine, nimble feet, an eye for a probing pass, strength in the tackle, plus he scored that goal! Some shots are impressive for their speed some stand out for their swerve. This effort had both. And we’ve been doing him a disservice describing the celebration he perfected in Scotland as a back-flip. It’s a full-on somersault. Supporters and Stubbs liked what they saw. The Vaulkswagon is rolling.

Taylor, a little livewire full of sharpness and attacking intent on the left, sparkled early on and the winger’s pace and trickery will win the Millers free-kicks, penalties and points over the season.

Winger Forde threatened in patches, although sometimes he needlessly gave away possession, putting the Millers under pressure as attack quickly turned to defence. Midfield man Forster-Caskey hardly ever gave the ball away but will be keen to do more with it in future outings.

Scott Allan entered proceedings too late to be judged on a day which, in the Millers camp at least, belonged to a dead-shot teammate who was also playing north of the border before Stubbs came calling.

“The ball just came to me and I like to hit it from that range,” Vaulks said. “It was bouncing but I thought I would give it a go. I caught it sweet. It was a nice feeling.”

The 22-year-old isn’t scared to try his luck. “You’ll probably get used to it,” he grinned.

Full-time and a final cliche. If you don’t shoot, you don’t score.

Click here for Paul Davis’s player ratings