On to the last month of 2012 with our last season look back….
The Millers went into the last month of the year in fourth place, seven points behind top placed Gillingham.
The first game of the month was in the FA Cup when Notts County of League One were the visitors. The Magpies started the brighter and opened the scoring on thirty-two minutes with a stunning goal from Yoann Arquin. But determination from the Millers midfield ten minutes later saw Daniel Nardiello thread the ball through to Michael O’Connor who in turn set Ben Pringle up inside the box who drilled a shot into the back of the net. After the games Steve Evans said it had been a fantastic cup-time and one he thought his team could have gone on to win.
At the start of the month the injury situation wasn’t great with Kari Arnason still a week or two away from fitness, Scott Shearer and David Noble were two weeks away, Dale Tonge two to four weeks away from being ready while Craig Morgan was between four and five weeks away. Lionel Ainsworth is the long term worry and could be eight weeks away from being fully fit.
Millers Boss Steve Evans told the press that he wanted the supporters to know what a big part they were playing in the season saying that ‘together we can make this a fantastic season.’
Steve Evans told everyone that the first name he always put on his team sheet was that of Jason Taylor although he said that Jaybo couldn’t actually play football but his determination and his battling always put a stamp on the game.
We also found out that the place most League Two fans would like to spend a penny was at the New York Stadium!
The temperatures were plummeting and well in the minuses but on the Thursday evening, Player Facilities Manager Dave Fellowes was confident the game at the New York Stadium would go ahead – which it did.
Leaders Gillingham were in town and two goals from former Miller Deon Burton gave them a first win in four games. Jason Taylor pulled one back on sixty-nine minutes but, try as they might, the Millers couldn’t find an equaliser. Ian Sharps had to leave the field of play with less than twenty minutes on the clock after, what looked to everyone but the ref, a poor challenge from Burton ending with a broken nose for the Millers skipper – the ref, Andy Haines, had a poor game and Steve Evans was said to be thinking of of speaking to the authorities about the challenge on Sharps.
The Millers made the short, but cold, journey to Meadow Lane for the FA Cup replay – only to get there and find out the game had been called off due to a frozen pitch. Although I think we all agreed that the game couldn’t have gone ahead it was blatantly clear that the game wasn’t going to happen at least two hours before it was actually called off.
The forgotten man, Danny Schofield, returned to the club after his loan spell with Accrington Stanley ended.
The Millers made the trip South to Kingsmeadow to take on AFC Wimbledon when a goal from substitute Kieran Agard gave the Millers all three points. Steve Evans said it was a ‘hard fought win’.
It was reported that Rotherham United youngster Nicky Walker was interesting other clubs. The midfielder/winger was said to be interesting the likes of Blackpool, Charlton, Reading and Swansea City.
At the second time of asking the Millers made the journey to Nottingham to take on County at Meadow Lane in the FA Cup replay. And the Millers were rampant! The game was just nine minutes old when Ben Pringle opened the scoring with Mark Bradley making it two on twelve minutes later. On the half-hour mark Darren Deadman sent Damien Stewart off after he swung an arm in Alex Revell’s face and ten minutes later Lee Frecklington got past the Notts defence and got the ball to Daniel Nardiello who made it three-nil from ten yards out. It could have been more in the second half but in the end the Millers following had to settle with just a three-nil win! After the win Steve Evans said, ‘I thought we were really at it tonight. We passed it and moved it, our triangle play was great and we opened them up time after time and we could have won by six or seven.’ Aldershot await the Millers in the next round.
Meanwhile the Reserves kept up the good work by beating Stoke City Reserves at Parkgate.
The Millers made the long trip to the Memorial Stadium to take on Bristol Rovers. With the weather not being of the best and after making sure twice before setting off that there was not problem down at Bristol and then phoning through to the Memorial Stadium when we were on the way we were still told that there wasn’t a problem. Forty-five minutes later we got a message to say the game had been called off. The club as well as the fans were none too happy about this. Bristol Rovers were also unhappy but not once did they offer a ‘sorry’ to anyone at Rotherham.
We found out that two bids for Kari Arnason had been rejected by the club and that Steve Evans was ‘excited’ about a ‘top quality’ signing he was hoping to get next month.
The Boxing Day game against Port Vale at the New York Stadium was said to be a sell out and the Gaffer was asking the fans to ‘sing the roof off’.
Unfortunately things didn’t go as planned and the Millers suffered their third home league game on the trot. Louis Dodds opened the scoring for the visitors on fifty-six minutes with former Miller Tom Pope making it two-nil seven minutes later. Kieran Agard scored a consolation for the Millers seven minutes from time but even with five minutes added on at the end of the game the home side couldn’t force a draw. While Assistant Manager Paul Raynor said he was ‘disappointed’ with the result Steve Evans said he didn’t think his side deserved to lose.
Mark Bradley said that the backing from the fans during the game had been ‘fantastic’ and that the team had now put pressure on themselves to win the next game.
The Gaffer was hopeful of getting his transfer targets in when the window opened but said that an international who was said to by flying in had been put on hold due to the expense of air fares at this time of the year.
The final game of 2012 was at the New York Stadium and, although it had been pouring down for quite a while in South Yorkshire, the game was not in any doubt and Accrington Stanley came for their first visit to the Millers new home.
The Millers totally dominated the game and they went ahead after fifteen minutes with an own goal from Thomas Eckersley after a long Kari Arnason throw caused problems in Stanley’s defence. Much against run of play the visitors went in all square at half-time when Craig Lindfield equalised five minutes before the break. Daniel Nardiello and Kayode Odejayi were introduced just before the hour mark and five minutes later the Millers went back in front after another Arnason throw found the head of Nardiello who put the ball into the back of the net. Andy Warrington made two good saves at the other end to keep Accrington out and ten minutes later a Liam Ridehalgh cross found Nardiello who got his second of the day. And three minutes later it was four-one when a Michael O’Connor corner wasn’t cleared and fell back to the Northern Irish International who slammed the ball into the back of the net. The Millers Boss was, of course, happy with the result but said something still ‘wasn’t quite right’.
Daniel Nardiello and Michael O’Connor were both in the Npower League Two Team of the Week.
Going into the New Year the Millers were hopeful that a deal could be done with Peterborough so that Lee Frecklington could stay with Rotherham.
Meanwhile the month ended with Nicky Hunt going out on loan to Accrington Stanley and Gareth Evans and the club parted company by mutual consent.
The Vital Rotherham Man of the Month was Alex Revell who was voted Man of the Match for the games at New York Stadium against Notts County in the FA Cup and in the league against Port Vale.
The Millers finished the year in fifth place, just two points off an automatic promotion place.
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RUFC – A Look Back At Last Season – December
On to the last month of 2012 with our last season look back….