Rotherham 1 Portsmouth 0: 5 talking points from the game

Rotherham kept their unbeaten run going in thrilling circumstances on Saturday with a 1-0 win over Portsmouth.

Joe Mattock struck an injury-time winner in front of the Kop to earn a deserved three points.


Here’s five talking points from the game.

Nothing beats a late goal

Is there a greater feeling watching sport than seeing your team nick a last-minute winner? That moment when Joe Mattock headed home in injury time, that feeling of unreserved joy, is why we love this game. And scoring late, important goals is becoming something of a habit for the Millers lately, especially at home. In the last four home games they have found the net in the 89th minute or later three times, turning a draw into a win once and defeats into draws twice. It sure beats them going in at the other end.

Determination to win the game

Mattock’s goal might have been sweeter had the Millers not deserved to win the game, but the defender’s header was fair reward for a dynamic second-half display. After an even first half, Paul Warne’s men controlled things after the break and were the only team trying to win. A precession of set-pieces nearly yielded something but it looked like it wasn’t going to be their day. But this team under Warne is not happy settling for a point – like many others might have been against a play-off rival – and that was showcased by the fact that their left-back rammed home a header from four yards in the first minute of injury time.

Kenny, what’s the score?

What made the win a little bit sweeter was that it came against the man who bolted 39 days after taking charge of the Millers last season. His entrance to the away dugout – one he has now frequented more than the home one – passed off without much incident, but three sides of the ground were in unison in asking their former manager what the score was shortly after Mattock’s winner. Jackett then did his press duties pitchside, away from the local Millers journalists, who have still not had the chance to ask him why he walked away after only five games. But still, cheers for the six points, Kenny.

Game-changing subs

For second home game in a row the introduction of a big striker swung the game in the Millers’ favour. Against Blackburn, Jonson Clarke-Harris did the damage and on Saturday it was Michael Smith who began to ask the Portsmouth defence questions. Smith showed good hold-up play, looked mobile on the ball and of course, sent in the inch-perfect cross for Mattock. These were promising signs. Smith came on with Joe Newell, who had another one of his fine cameos off the bench. He has done that so many times this season at home, coming on as a second-half substitute, looking in the words of Warne like Maradona, and leaving everyone scratching their heads as to why he didn’t start.

From the notebook

– Do not leave the AESSEAL New York Stadium early. The Millers have now scored 10 goals in the final 10 minutes of their home games this season.

– That’s 21 games in a row finding the back of the net, the best sequence in the country. The Millers scored 24 times in a row in the 2000-01 season and that didn’t end too badly.

– Things are improving at the other end too. This was the first clean sheet at home since October 14 and the Millers are beginning to look a little less vulnerable.

– Eight games unbeaten is impressive and puts the Millers joint top of the form table. That half-time team-talk at Blackpool is looking more and more inspired.

– Although Jackett is clearly not highly thought of by the Millers hierarchy or fans, the players don’t seem to hold a grudge. As the Pompey boss did his press duties on the NYS touchline, he shook hands and exchanged pleasantries with Jon Taylor and Jonson Clarke-Harris.

– It was a touching moment before kick-off as the club remembered fans and players who have passed in the last year. The minute’s applause for Rodney Fearn, John McGlashan and Cyrille Regis was particularly heart-warming. Well done to Pompey’s support for honouring it too.



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