If Paul Warne came to Chesterfield looking for weaknesses in his squad, then he might be have been disappointed.
The Millers put in a superb performance at the Proact Stadium – their best yet during a positive pre-season – as they eased to a 3-1 friendly win that gets the mouth watering ahead of the new campaign.
Goals from David Ball and Jon Taylor were reward for a scintillating first half before a picturebook goal from Ryan Williams sealed it late on.
Even an inevitable goal for Chris O’Grady could not take the shine off what was an impressive night for the Millers.
First, let’s get the disclaimer out of the way. Yes, it was a friendly and yes, they were playing League Two opposition. But the way Warne’s men completely dominated the opening 45 minutes will have left the boss with more ticks than crosses as he prepares for the big kick-off.
It was a collective high-tempo display, full of energy and a determination to attack with pace, while also littered with impressive individual displays. A friendly it might have been, but it was great to watch.
The second half did not quite have the same verve as Chesterfield made changes and improved immeasurably, yet ironically it brought the best goal of the game and one that gave an insight into what we might expect from the Millers this season.
Ben Purrington fed Anthony Forde, he ran at his marker with intent, beat him for pace and then squared to Williams, who swept home. The ball had gone from the Millers penalty area to Chesterfield’s net in about 15 seconds.
FT| Chesterfield 1 v 3 Millers – Goals from David Ball, Taylor and Williams earn a good win for #rufc, despite late O'Grady strike.
— Rotherham United (@OfficialRUFC) July 25, 2017
Aside from that sublime moment, it became a usual friendly fare as a host of changes were disruptive, but Warne saw enough positives during the first half, though was left wanting more.
“I thought we were outstanding in the first half, we played a high press and that is how I want to play,” Warne said.
“We got the ball in good areas and we could have been well out of sight. Going into half-time 2-0 up I was happy with how we played but I wish we would have scored more goals.
“It is nice to win away from home, we brought a few fans here so it is nice to win but I want more.”
If his side continue along this path he might just get it.
From the notebook
– Kieffer Moore might just have played himself into contention for a starting spot that had Jamie Proctor’s name on it. Building on his promising showing against Sheffield United on Friday, the Ipswich loanee was the stand-out player for the Millers with strength in the air, neat link-up play and mobility.
– As an indication as to how well the Millers were playing in the first half, Spireites boss Gary Caldwell was forced into a tactical substitution on the left-hand side of defence.
– It’s safe to assume Warne has decided his back five after they were given a second successive run out. It will take something major to stop O’Donnell, Emmanuel, Ajayi, Ihiekwe and Mattock not getting the nod at Fleetwood.
– Emmanuel gave us his first real glimpse of what we can expect from the Ipswich loanee. Pace, power, determination and a good engine.
– Jon Taylor will be vital to how Rotherham will play this season. His pace exposes teams and allows the Millers to attack with speed. He just needs to deliver an end product.
– It wouldn’t have been right had Chris O’Grady not scored. The former striker, still a pantomime villain, caused the Millers mayhem when playing for Burton last season and although Ajayi and Ihiekwe marshalled him well overall, he still got on the scoresheet.