Rotherham United 3-2 Bury: Review

  • Kieffer Moore looked the real deal for Rotherham United; his loan acquisition by Millers chief Paul Warne could scarcely have gotten off to a better start. With a generous backline to assist him, he nevertheless displayed excellent close control, hold-up play and movement to be an unrelenting menace. The ball for the first of his brace was no fluke; although Will Vaulks was being shepherded back to the halfway line by Rohan Ince, he still had time and space to look up several times. The target man checked his run and his second touch passed it into the net. He was goal-side of Alex Whitmore much too easily. For his second, his marker is… elsewhere, to put it politely. He cushioned his header in from a dinked cross by Jon Taylor and as predicted, their ‘partnership’ bore plenty of fruit in this encounter. The ploy was simple but why over-elaborate when it just isn’t necessary? The eventual scoreline flattered the first-time visitors to the AESSEAL New York Stadium. On that evidence, the South Yorkshire outfit will continue to easily confound some tipsters who had them down for consecutive relegations (and with some aplomb, too).


  • Jermaine Beckford continues to divide opinion but in my view, he’s doing the very best he can with the scant selection that comes his way. With Ryan Lowe nominally partnering him, you’re getting someone whose best days are behind him but he still has the vision to make something happen. His cross for the former Preston North End hitman’s stooping header was excellent. When the support is there for Beckford, he looks better as an individual, his body language improves and the team as a whole are more dangerous. Almost as though there is some sort of link…


  • Nathan Cameron doesn’t look in the best shape (unsurprisingly, perhaps) but can still deliver when it matters. His diving header for the second equaliser and celebration in front of the travelling contingent is symbolic of the rapport he shares with them and his attitude in each game. He is unlikely to be involved tomorrow evening and it will be intriguing to see just who will come into the XI in his place. Tom Aldred possesses similar characteristics but will Lee Clark make the obvious choice? Not judging by events thus far in 2017/2018.


  • Mihai Dobre injected pace and athleticism into the team when he was introduced. His ability to swap flanks will be key in the absences of Jay O’Shea through injury and Zeli Ismail (now at Walsall until January). With Harry Bunn on the opposite side, there should be more of an emphasis on taking the ball high up the pitch in future matches instead of starting from a deeper area and inviting pressure immediately if possession is lost.


  • Phil Edwards & Rohan Ince are not working as a pairing in midfield. Both of them are naturally conservative in their positioning; the former in particular is apt to not venture into the opponents’ half in open play often. Ince seems to have regressed on the pitch since his promising debut against Rochdale and found himself overwhelmed by the physicality and running off the ball by the likes of Vaulks and Lee Frecklington. Respite will be in equally short supply on the Lancashire coast and a major rethink is now required.


  • Michael Smith added a bit of impetus when introduced from the bench. The ball generally stuck to him or at least further away from the Shakers’ goalmouth for more extended periods. I suspect Clark is grooming him to partner Beckford (even over the likes of Chris Maguire) once he’s fully up to speed but that might make the long balls into the channels an even more frequent occurrence.


  • Alex Whitmore was culpable for all three goals conceded and had a torrid time whilst attempting to shackle Moore. For the first, he allowed the striker to get goal-side of him and put up a powder-puff fight to avert the danger. For the second, he was dragged well out of position by a deep cross and didn’t ‘reset’ himself. The end result was an unmarked Moore and another goal. For the third, he mistimed his leap and unnecessarily doubled up with the ineffective Josh Laurent on the canny David Ball. The space afforded to Richard Towell allowed him to drive expertly into the far corner. He’s looked competent up until Saturday and on the face of it, it’s unlikely that both starting centre backs won’t feature tomorrow. Then again…


  • Joe Murphy kept the scoreline reasonably respectable. In his tenure at the club to date, I can only cite perhaps two goals which were either directly his fault or that he could’ve done better with. Considering the avalanche given up, that’s a compliment to his shot-stopping abilities. Few on the pitch can be as exasperated at the current situation as he is. Until the number of shots he faces drops considerably, that will sadly continue. He deserves better.


  • Distressingly, the Shakers simply do not looking like winning a single game at this moment in time. Even when they do manage to get level, there is no little urgency or real sense that momentum can be built to find a winner. Not enough chances are denied to the opposition, not enough are carved out by the men in white/black, the midfield battle is routinely lost, the full backs often push up and are caught out of position as a result when the ball is lost (which also happens too quickly in). All in all, not one area other than in goal are performing anywhere close to their capabilities…


  • To echo the point above, I still feel as though too much respect is being paid to the opposition in terms of tactical setup. The players are badly lacking confidence and Clark’s post-match comments are the clearest signal yet of a disconnect between management and the squad. Most supporters recognise the abundance of talent on the roster but he has yet to demonstrate he can harness it in any meaningful way. I knew it would be a slow start but it feels like the metaphorical gear-stick is actually in reverse. The nigh-on inevitable fifth defeat from just seven league games tomorrow evening would leave Stewart Day with a tough but necessary decision to make. If there were some green shoots of progress, the current malaise would be a lot easier to endure… but it’s becoming an all-too familiar feeling.

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