Saturday’s fiesty Yorkshire derby went Rotherham United’s way, as Neil Warnock’s men triumphed 2-1 over Leeds United at the New York Stadium.
In a game that always promised to have plenty of edge, it was the Millers who struck first as Lee Frecklington stabbed home from Joe Mattock’s cross in what was a relatively tame first 45 minutes.
The second half lived up to the billing, however, as the attempts piled on the two goals in an entertaining affair, but the next drama turned out to be a red card.
Referee Kevin Friend adjudged that Matt Derbyshire left an elbow in on Gaetano Berardi, with the Swiss international looking distraught before pushing and shoving ensued between the two sides.
The Millers, who are riding the crest of a wave that has seen them win four of their five matches before Saturday’s, saw Steve Evans’s side equalise in the 79th minute, with Luke Murphy’s strike from distance deflecting of one of the men in red, wrong-footing goalkeeper Lee Camp in the process.
This intriguing match had a fitting end, after Frecklington found himself one-on-one, before being taken out by Lilywhites number one Marco Silvestri.
Evans, who is a former manager at the New York Stadium, had used all his substitutes, leaving centre-back Giuseppe Bellusci to stand between the sticks for the spot kick that Greg Halford coolly slotted in the bottom corner to secure the three points for his men.
With plenty to look in to, FootballLeagueWorld writer Ryan Evans identifies THREE things that we learned from yesterday’s clash in South Yorkshire…
1) Rotherham have now made it six games without a loss
After what could only be described as an abysmal first half of the season, the change of managers has immediately paid dividends for the Rotherham hierarchy.
Neil Redfearn’s record in Yorkshire this term was won seven, drawn four and lost 19, leaving them cut adrift alongside Bolton Wanderers and Charlton Athletic at the foot of the division.
Since his sacking, the Millers have lost just twice, and now sit five points and two positions clear of the drop zone.
They’ve only lost to Reading and league leaders Burnley, and wins over promotion chasing Sheffield Wednesday, Middlesbrough and Ipswich Town have followed as the defence under Warnock has looked a lot more sound.
The former Crystal Palace, QPR and Leeds boss will need to make sure that his side recovers well, as they face back-to-back relegation encounters at Bristol City, who themselves are in good form, before traveling to Milton Keynes Dons next weekend.
This will be a real test for this side, and should they gain any more than three points from these two fixtures, you would think that they will be safe from the drop this season.
2) A backs against the wall performance, but three points nonetheless
When you’re down at the bottom, scrapping for points, it doesn’t matter how you get the points, just that you get them.
And when you take a closer look at some of the stats, that is exactly what happened.
With three of their 12 shots on target, compared to eight of Leeds’s 26, Warnock and his men will be pleased that they could convert three attempts on target to two goals, but might wish to improve their accuracy ahead of Tuesday’s game.
Also, their defensive mindset, conceding 67% of the possession, meant they had a solid base to build on, but you would have thought they will need to change their tactics for the games against Bristol City and MK Dons to come.
3) Where do Leeds go next?
In 14th place with 47 points, Leeds are in the peculiar position that they find themselves 17 points off the play-offs and ten points ahead of the relegation zone, so very unlikely to end up in a scrap for either, leaving them with little to play for.
Whilst yes the players will want to go out and put on a good show for their fans every week, with little reward to come out of it, you wonder whether the effort and/or commitment will be there from the team, especially considering there is so much talk behind the scenes regarding the manager’s future.
They have eight games remaining, which you think will be Evans and his players’ audition to owner Massimo Cellino whether they should stay for next season.
Leeds fans… what do you make of the result? Did you deserve to lose? Do you think Evans will be keeping his job?
Rotherham fans… how important is this latest result in your survival hopes? Did the performance please you, or would you prefer a more attacking display? Let us know your thoughts and opinion in the comments below!