BHappy: The other significant contributor to the first half was Kortney Hause, making his full debut on the left side of the defence in front of us… indeed, so tall and broad is Hause that he blocked our view of much of the rest of the pitch during the first half from our position three rows back in the corner.
Sky Sports: Chile international Francisco Sierralta opened the scoring with his first goal in English football and further efforts from Ismaila Sarr and Ken Sema put Xisco Munoz’s men firmly in the ascendancy at the break. After Michael Smith had a penalty saved for the Millers, Freddie Ladapo pulled a goal back in spectacular fashion but Dan Gosling swiftly responded to extinguish any hopes of a comeback.
BHappy: At the centre of much of it, and critical to all three of the first half goals, was Philip Zinckernagel. The Dane’s startling record in Norway came with the caveat that, you know, it was in Norway; a slight concern that he’d left Denmark at the age of 24 without having pulling up any trees. He’s shown flashes of quality before now, but this was a startling performance… for the first, he cut back onto his right foot and dropped a cross onto Sierralta’s head. The Chilean held off his marker to dump the ball past Blackman, stranded on his line, spent a couple of seconds recovering his senses and then rose with what is becoming a trademark two-fisted bellow.
For the second game running a limited number of fans were allowed to attend. The official attendance was 1,976.
Official site: Christian Kabasele gave the team the early goal you always need against a lower-ranked team who set their stall out with plenty of men behind the ball and then Troy Deeney, having had a major hand in the first, scored the second around ten minutes later to drive home the advantage. This is what the fans came back to see, what they had been teased with on Hive Live during the behind-closed-doors Championship games. It felt like a long way back for Rotherham at that point.
We really ought to have won it, obviously, yet never quite did enough to turn theory into fact. Not the first time and probably not the last either, and it says much about the division that we can make a habit of such indecision while comfortably maintaining a position just below the playoffs. When we take our chances, we’re capable of being a frightening side; much more often, we’re poised on the brink, unable to make the leap. That’s all right, mind: such potential, even unrealised, is a great and unexpected improvement after recent struggles. People booed this, but they’re the people who’d do the same even if we’d hit the woodwork seventeen times, had nine realistic penalty appeals refused, three perfectly good goals disallowed, forced the keeper into an endless series of miracles, and had a shot cleared from a yard over the line. With nine men. In this instance, we were some way short of that, clearly. Some way short of previous seasons’ atrocities too, though.
You’d rather hope that our ambitions might stretch a little further than that, of course. Being a bit better than Bradford isn’t exactly a towering achievement, after all. But it’ll do for now, I guess. For all that the season started with fairly high expectations, not being in the bottom three seems like a useful point from which to begin again. It could be worse. And it might get better.