Rotherham’s disappointing run in Sky Bet League One continued as Shrewsbury won 2-1 at the AESSEAL New York Stadium.
It looked like the Millers might go on to win it when Richie Towell cancelled out Jon Nolan’s early goal, but Stefan Payne struck at the death to give Paul Hurst a winning return.
Here’s five talking points from the game.
Rotherham still can’t defend
It has been their Achilles heel all season and nothing is changing – Rotherham’s inability to defend properly will cost them any shot at the top six. It was two more lax moments at the back that saw them lose this one as Jon Nolan was allowed to ghost through to open the scoring, with a shot the goalkeeper the might have saved, and then a catalogue of errors at the death saw Shrewsbury win it. Firstly Semi Ajayi needlessly shanked a clearance which went out for a corner, something the Millers continually struggle to defend, and a shocking defensive header fell straight to Stefan Payne who smashed home the winner. It meant that the Millers lost a game they probably deserved to draw.
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Time to take stock
As disappointing as the last month has been, it’s time for a bit of realism. The Millers are levelling out after an impressive start that nobody expected, yet still raised expectations. Rotherham’s worst season in their history is still only six months ago and boss Paul Warne has had one transfer window to rebuild. On the evidence of the opening 18 games of this season, the current squad is not good enough to mount a serious promotion bid, but nor will there be any danger of them getting sucked in to anything untoward.
While success – and therefore promotion – should always be chased, this term was as much about stabilising as anything else and avoiding a second relegation. Remember, it took Ronnie Moore three seasons to get out of the bottom division while the Millers were 11th in the league at the same stage of Steve Evans’ League Two promotion season. Yes, the Millers aren’t playing well at the minute and results are proving tough to come by, but in the grand scheme, they are doing okay.
Paul Hurst is a winner
Treated to a fine reception from the Millers crowd before kick-off, Hurst was happy to get less and less popular as the game went on. The way in which his Shrewsbury side played should have come as no surprise as they epitomised everything Hurst was about as a player. Organised, battling, whole-hearted, never-say-die, niggling, performing above their level – it’s easy to see why the Shrews are up there and on this evidence they are no flash in the pan. Hurst’s desire to win showed no bounds as even at the end he was arguing with long-time friend Richie Barker over something that had no bearing on the result. Let’s hope that Paul Warne is right and one day we see him in the other dugout.
— Jonathan Veal (@jonathandveal83) November 18, 2017
What’s happened to Ryan Williams?
We’ll have a pint of whatever the sponsors were drinking, please! Their decision to award Ryan Williams man of the match was one of the most baffling of all time, especially as he had just come off after skewing the ball out of play – something he did with alarming regularity throughout the game. The winger was one of the key men in the early part of the season, but his form has dipped in the last few weeks and the Millers are feeling it.
From the notebook
– Unfortunately for Rotherham Kieffer Moore is no longer their best kept secret. The whole country has heard of him and the whole of League One now knows how the Millers set up to play with him. The over-reliance on the long ball to the striker makes them predictably one-dimensional and often he is isolated. More often than not, there’s no Plan B either.
– The Millers enjoyed the ecstasy of a last-gasp goal last week at Doncaster but the boot was on the other foot this weekend and it stinks.
– The first goal remains as important as ever to how the Millers fare. They are still yet to come from behind and win a game since February 2014 – an appalling stat.
– Let’s not bother getting anymore penalties. We had to wait until the penultimate home game of last season to get one in the league, which was missed, and then, even with Kieffer Moore on duty on Saturday, there was an air of inevitably about the outcome.
– If Richard O’Donnell or Marek Rodak want to make the number one shirt their own, then they need to study Dean Henderson’s performance. The Shrewsbury goalkeeper played exactly how Warne wants his keeper to be. He came out for almost everything, got to almost everything – either by catching or punching -and his distribution was first class. He saved a penalty and had the art of time-wasting down to a tee.