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Rotherham United 1-0 Ipswich Town - Match Report
Saturday, 16th Apr 2022 14:39

Michael Smith’s 78th-minute goal saw Rotherham to a 1-0 victory over the Blues at the New York Stadium, mathematically ending any remaining hopes Town might have had of making the play-offs. The Blues had the best chance of the first half, James Norwood scuffing wide at the far post, but the Millers, who had won only one of their last seven in League One, were well on top after the break with Smith striking the game’s only goal.

Town boss Kieran McKenna handed 19-year-old Elkan Baggott his league debut, becoming the first Indonesian to feature in English league football.

Baggott, whose only domestic appearance up to now was a start in the EFL Trophy tie against Gillingham two seasons ago, came in on the left of the back three with Cameron Burgess suspended.

The only other changes from the team which drew 1-1 at Shrewsbury last week, were Dominic Thompson’s return to left wing-back for Matt Penney, who dropped to the bench, and Bersant Celina coming into the team with Conor Chaplin among the subs.

The Millers, with the sun beating down on a warm South Yorkshire afternoon, were first to threaten in the third minute from a corner. Big striker Michael Smith nodded back across the box for Wes Harding, whose shot was blocked, then one-time Town trialist Chiedozie Ogbene curled over from outside the area.

Town, wearing all blue, should have gone in front in the ninth minute. Sone Aluko sent Wes Burns away on the right and the Welshman sent over a superb low ball for James Norwood at the far post but somehow the striker contrived to divert it wide from a couple of feet.

Neither side was able to get on top, both having spells on the ball without creating an opening. As the game approached the 20-minute mark, Burns sent a cross into the stand at one end and then Jordi Osei-Tutu did the same at the other.

The home side were forced into a change in the 24th minute when Mickel Miller suffered a knock and Dan Barlaser replaced him, the players taking one of a number of mid-half drinks break due to the sunny conditions.

Five minutes later, a looping free-kick in from the right was half-headed clear by Luke Woolfenden to the right of the box and Ben Wiles struck a low shot which was blocked.

As the half moved into its final quarter of an hour, Rotherham were starting to dominate but with the Blues defending resolutely.

On 35, Town won the ball just inside their half and broke via Celina on the left. The Kosovan international fed Thompson to his left and the on-loan Brentford man sent over a low cross which home keeper Viktor Johansson unconvincingly dived and pawed away behind Norwood.

As the half moved into five minutes of injury time, Burns was booked for a foul on Osei-Tutu, the Rotherham man having thwarted him as he looked to burst towards the Millers’ box.

Two minutes later, Celina joined him in the book with the home fans calling for a red. After Ollie Rathbone had blocked him off after he had laid off a pass a few yards inside the Town, the on-loan Dijon man shoved the midfielder to the ground.

After some pushing and shoving involving a number of players, referee Peter Wright deemed the offence only worthy of a yellow card. Celina could perhaps count himself lucky.

Wright blew his whistle soon afterwards to boos from the home support regarding that decision.

There had been little in what at times had been a frantic period with both teams having spells, although with Rotherham perhaps shading it on that front.

However, Town, while far from their most fluent with too many passes going astray in the opposition half, had had the game’s outstanding chance, Norwood’s spurned ninth-minute chance, while at the other end the backline had defended solidly with debutant Baggott looking far from out of place.

Within a minute of the restart, Norwood had his name added to referee Wright’s book for catching Rotherham skipper Michael Ihiekwe with a stray arm as they jumped for a header.

On 51, Smith headed over from a Millers’ free-kick on the right, Janoi Donacien having got a flick on the ball as it came over.

Rotherham were getting up a head of steam and in the 54th minute an Osei-Tutu cross from the left was too high for Town keeper Christian Walton but, fortunately for the Blues, also Ogbene at the far post. Rarmani Edmonds-Green curled a shot wide in the aftermath.

Woolfenden became the fourth Blues player to be yellow-carded three minutes later for a foul on Rathbone on the Millers’ left, a few yards outside the area. The free-kick was floated to the far post where Smith nodded into the side-netting from a tight angle.

As the game moved towards the hour mark, Tyreeq Bakinson picked up a loose Rotherham pass midway inside the home side’s half but was crowded out as he took it into the box.

In the 62nd minute, Edmonds-Green was shown Rotherham’s first yellow card of the afternoon for rugby tackling Norwood as the striker took the ball past him on the left.

From the free-kick, the ball deflected back towards the near post and Aluko and home keeper Johansson collided as they attacked it, both with their eyes on the prize. The two required treatment as the Rotherham fans again chanted for a red card, before referee Wright showed the Town forward a yellow to more boos.

The Blues already had Chaplin and Macauley Bonne readied to come on and prior to the restart they replaced Aluko and Norwood respectively.

Rotherham had been the better side since the break and in the 70th minute when Rathbone almost played Ogbene in on goal but put just too much on his pass.

However, Town almost went in front in the 72nd minute when Woolfenden made a strong run out of defence, exchanging a pass along the way, before getting to the byline and cutting back across the area. The ball was stabbed clear and Burns struck a powerful effort which was on its way into the top corner until Johansson superbly tipped it behind.

The home side went close almost immediately. From the resultant corner, the Millers broke and won a flag-kick of their own on the left from which Smith got in front of Baggott while manhandling him and headed goalwards from inside the six-yard box but Walton was in position to stop it and Chaplin cleared.

However, the home fans didn’t have to wait too much longer to see their side go in front. In the 78th minute, Harding sent a long throw into the area, Osei-Tutu’s shot was blocked by Baggott but the ball deflected out to Smith on the left of the box from where he deftly struck his 25th goal of the season across Walton, who was perhaps unsighted as Woolfenden sought to block, and into the corner of the net.

Town immediately swapped Celina for Joe Pigott as they looked to get back into a game in which they had been second best since the break.

As the match moved into its final three minutes the Blues won two quick corners, neither of which came to anything. Between the two, veteran centre-half Richard Wood took over from Osei-Tutu.

The fourth official’s board indicated nine additional minutes, the period having been punctuated by drinks breaks and stoppages for Rotherham injuries.

But the Blues were unable to find a threat during those minutes with Smith heading over for the Millers prior to the whistle.

Four successive Town visits to the New York Stadium have now ended in 1-0 defeats, with Smith having also scored the winner in the August 2018 fixture between the sides in the Championship.

After a first half in which there had been little in it, in the second the Millers found the mojo which had been missing for them in recent weeks and stepped it up with Town never able to get their passing going, putting in probably the poorest half under McKenna.

Too often the Blues found themselves trying to get the ball forward too quickly rather than moving it around in the manner which has become familiar in the last few months.

Smith had come close just before scoring and after the break, aside from Burns’s strike following Woolfenden’s excellent run, the Millers, who move back up to second with MK Dons in action this evening, always looked the most likely scorers.

The defeat, only the fourth in McKenna’s 20 games in charge, and other results over the weekend see the Blues drop to 10th in the table with the play-offs now mathematically impossible.

Town, whose recent run is now one win in six, are next in action at home to leaders Wigan on Tuesday.

Rotherham: Johansson, Harding, Osei-Tutu (Wood 88), Wiles, Ogbene, Miller (Barlaser 24), Lindsay, Rathbone, Ihiekwe (c), Edmonds-Green, Smith. Unused: Chapman, Wood, Mattock, Ferguson, Ladapo, Kayode.

Town: Walton, Donacien, Woolfenden, Baggott, Burns, Bakinson, Morsy (c), Thompson, Aluko (Chaplin 66), Celina (Pigott 79), Norwood (Bonne 66). Unused: Hladky, Penney, Carroll, El Mizouni. Referee: Peter Wright (Merseyside). Att: 9,364, (Town: 1,087).

Photo: Pagepix

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OliveR16 added 14:41 - Apr 16
We're a League One team with Premier League fans.

FrankMarshall added 14:42 - Apr 16
First half: positive
Second half: ran out of steam. Woeful.

grow_our_own added 14:43 - Apr 16
Well played Baggott. Get Humphreys & Simpson in for the last dead rubbers. Blooding the kids is the only positive left to gain this season.

TimmyH added 14:43 - Apr 16
Poor second half...Rotherham came out with more urgency to get the 3 points, again we created little (other than the sitter)...positive good debut from Baggott, and you can see why Celina is a luxury player watching this game.

So the losses on TV keep happening and we continue to help out sides on losing runs and in desperate need for points (don't forget they've recently lost to Portsmouth, Charlton and Shrews)...nothing really changes!

ImAbeliever added 14:44 - Apr 16
….6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…..

bluerico added 14:45 - Apr 16
Good first half but failed to score (again). Not in it second half. We need 2 mid fielders and probably 3 forwards for next season, as too many of the current squad are not good enough to get us out of this league.

TractorRob added 14:45 - Apr 16
One feeble shot on target is nowhere near good enough. Goals win matches not possession stats. Only 3 in the last six matches.

blueboy1981 added 14:45 - Apr 16
A Bog Standard Mid Table Division 3 Team - for the umpteenth consecutive Season.
McKenna has much to do, and prove between now and August … !!!
We fire more blanks than a Pop Gun - and game after game look less capable of changing that.
Without scoring - you DO NOT WIN games of Football. Hard Fact !!

EssexTractor added 14:49 - Apr 16
Proof positive on todays showing we are a poor team.
Walton Wolfenden Baggot did themselves justice - the rest at best mediocre
Hopefully KM CAN SEE THAT and rebuild this summer
Bonne was on the pitch over 20 minutes - didn’t see him touch the ball
Pigott touched it twice
Celina fortunate not to be red carded and did nothing
Midfield Morsy and Bakinson did what ?
And 6 bookings..
Yes rebuild or linger forever in League One

Pezzer added 14:52 - Apr 16
Watched on Sky, looked like a typical performance of old, had some good chances but failed to score, made basic errors to lose possession and invite pressure, then conceded a poor goal. A long way off being a top 2 team in L1 on that performance.

jas0999 added 14:53 - Apr 16
Thought our second half performance was very poor. Clearly we need to strengthen in the summer. There is a reason we are tenth. Baggott had a great debut - well done to him.

Why we keep playing Thompson is beyond me. Another poor game. We can surely do better.

Overall, disappointing as the season looks like fizzling out.

SickParrot added 14:55 - Apr 16
I only saw the second half but apart from Woolfie's run we were woeful. Second to every ball, sloppy passing, no goal threat and carrying passengers.

I put the Cambridge defeat down to an off day and said at the time that we were close to being a very good team. Subsequent results and what I saw today suggest otherwise. Still much work for McKenna to do this summer!

Beattiesballbag added 14:55 - Apr 16
Hopefully KM can learn & change as nothing has changed since it has been obvious we are not strong enough creating chances or putting away the few we create.....only plus is this result may save us from playing them next season.

iaintaylorx added 14:55 - Apr 16
Anyone else think Woolfy is wasted at CB? The guy is so good, and more so with his bursts forward. A defensive midfielder could maybe suit him even more. Definitely a future ITFC captain! As for Baggott, that was a great debut. Would love to see him play until the end of the season, and even with Ndaba having an amazing season at Salford, our CB options looks very, very good!

A striker, LB and Celina could be all we need next season!

budgieplucker added 14:57 - Apr 16
That’s why we are tenth. Toothless display, unfortunately when Sam Morsy has a poor game the team underperform, we can’t expect Sam to carry us all the time.

Norwood has to put that chance away in the first half and that really sums us up, you have to deliver in the big moments and we consistently fail to do that.

Norwood and Celina have flashes of brilliance about 1 in every 15 matches.

Norwood, Celina, Bonne, Thompson should now all sit the rest of the season out. They have had half a season to prove to McKenna that they can consistently deliver at this level and have failed and quite frankly should expect themselves lucky if any of them gets an offer to return.

Piggot needs the last three games to save his career at Ipswich and personally I would have no qualms if Piggot and Chaplin both moved on. We need some serious investment in the final third.

Personally as a starter I would try and go and get Waggy for his special deliveries from set plays and maybe an audacious bid for Tom Lawrence and a Michael Smith type of centre forward.

raycrawfordswig added 14:57 - Apr 16
Already on the Beach

blueboy1981 added 14:59 - Apr 16
Let’s not gloss over this - there is much dead wood in this Team, that are not even up to the reality requirement of Division 3.
Today was another example of proof.
Hard to accept by many - but this Team does not deserve the support it has, Home or Away !!
Much, much change required - without that, another like for like season lies ahead with the arrival of August.

Suffolkboy added 15:04 - Apr 16
The underlying inadequacies have not and will not escape the ITFC management ; no doubt at all they’re already aware of the shortcomings and gaps in the talent store ,and both on the field and during play .
We’ve been treated to much by way of promise , have learned a lot about the squad , but equally are obviously at the beginning of a new and truly fresh era of ownership and development .
The months ahead through to 2022/2033 season will provide continued inspiration ,and excitement : let’s all hope the rainbow ends in a pot of gold !

grow_our_own added 15:07 - Apr 16
You might be onto something iaintaylorx. We're blessed with an abundance of excellent CBs, but are short of a decent defensive-CM. None of Bakinson, Harper, Carroll nor Evans really convinced this season. Why not try Woolf there?

bobble added 15:10 - Apr 16
after all the hoo haa we will end up exactly where we were last season....a mid table 3rd division team..
.the only way back is to remove the dark lords curse on us...
we need bigger voodoo than cork gypsy voodoo...a high ranking aboriginal from NT or a north American high ranking Indian chief could remove the curse upon us with a simple smoking ceremony in the middle of the and simple solution to a cheap munster curse...

chepstowblue added 15:12 - Apr 16
A pitiful performance and for the first time in many months I've left the ground believing that we are also rans for the foreseeable and many miles away from contending. An inability to create chances due to a woeful final ball or poor finishing when the opportunity arises. Another side in the middle of a poor run hardly has to break sweat in order to kick start their season. At times we are the perfect opposition and far from the Billy Big b*locks that we deludedly see ourselves as.

ArnieM added 15:13 - Apr 16
Same old sh it every game .

THREE goals spurned from directly in front of goal and we go onto lose yet again …. And there was me thinking it was all Paul Cooks fault !!

ringwoodblue added 15:20 - Apr 16
An early kick-off on TV against Rotherham who were on a bad run. Seriously, the result was never in doubt.

Baggott and Woolfie were the main positives for me.

This season is falling off a cliff and can’t end soon enough.

martin587 added 15:29 - Apr 16
Plenty of disgruntled posts today and I can understand why.First half we played with intensity but still the same problems of putting the ball in the net.The defence is fine and backup is very promising and that’s where it stops unfortunately.Our midfield goes missing with Thompson and Bakinson.Morsy was nonexistent at times.We desperately need a MF with vision.Strikers,what strikers.This has been our weakness for a long time and until this has been rectified I’m afraid we will win very few games.
The gaffer I’m sure has already plans so let’s just hope and pray we can get off with a flier next season.Long drive back to the CITY with plenty to think about.Let’s just hope we show up on Tuesday night.

Chris_Knights added 15:30 - Apr 16
21/22 season verdict

Defence good
Midfield rubbish
Attack even worse

Lots to do in the close season

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