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Match Report

 

Posted Sat 10 Mar 12 at 16:59 PM

ROTHERHAM UNITED 1 ARGYLE 0

Rotherham United 1
Grabban pen 70

Argyle 0

by RICK COWDERY

ARGYLE'S frustrating inconsistency, both over a season and during 90 minutes, again accompanied them to South Yorkshire for their first - and last - visit to the Don Valley Stadium.

Initially, the Pilgrims unfortunately failed to reproduce the spirited and committed team performance that had seen them take three points from AFC Wimbldeon in midweek, and were beaten by Lewis Grabban's penalty midway through the second half.

However, after the strike from 12 yards, given for Darren Purse's mistimed challenge on lively substitute Garth Evans, Argyle came out of a largely defensive shell and played their most enterprising football of the match, but found an equaliser beyond them.

Fletcher

A fourth successive away game without defeat - not previously achieved since the early weeks of the 2008-09 season - would have done much for confidence going into the vital final stretch of the season.

As expected, Carl Fletcher had given a resounding vote of confidence to the players that had achieved a 2-1 win at AFC Wimbledon four days previously, electing an unchanged starting 11 and naming the same five substitutes.

Fletcher has talked recently about the strength in depth of his squad, and that was given eloquent endorsement by the fact that the likes of Luke Daley, Curtis Nelson and Paul Bignot failed to make the match-day 16 for a second successive match.

Warren Feeney

However, the equally expressed managerial view that they remain a vital part of the squad was underlined by the inclusion of all three, along with Matt Lecointe and Juvhel Tsoumou, in the party that travelled to Sheffield.

Rotherham manager Andy Scott, himself the recipient of a more traditional vote of confidence this week, also kept faith with his previous starting line-up which had enjoyed the thick end of a 1-1 home draw against Crewe in midweek.

The opening exchanges were not exactly comfortable for Argyle, who found themselves having to deal with a succession of searching crosses and probing through-balls.

Durrell Berry

The defence managed this without to much fuss although they would have been grateful to see the ball stick with the front men a little bit longer every time it was cleared.

The first shot to speak of on either goal came from Pilgrims' captain Simon Walton, who was perhaps not the only person in the ground to spot the eccentric positioning of home goalkeeper Rhys Taylor and test him out with a low drive.

Rotherham's pressure eventually carved out a solid opening. Another curled-in cross, this time from Sam Wood on the left, found the head of Danny Schofield, who should have got the ball on target. If he had, Jake Cole - exposed and flatfooted - would have been beaten.

Luke Young

The opportunity, midway through the first half, gave the Millers impetus and they again went close when right-back Mark Bradley chased a lost cause to the byeline and crossed for captain Danny Harrison to fire in a shot that went high, possibly the result of Luke Young nipping at his heels.

The Pilgrims responded with a little sustained pressure of their own which ended with a half-chance when Alex MacDonald crossed low to the near post, where the alert Nick Chadwick had nipped in for a shot which was blocked.

A similar move in first-half injury-time almost resulted in Argyle taking the lead, with the ball again being played into Chadwick from the right flank.

This time, Chadwick's shot took a deflection on its way to goal and looped up, requiring Taylor to backpedal and twist his body to turn the ball away for a corner. It was as close as either side had come to breaking the deadlock.

Wotton Scott arguement

Rotherham began the second period with Gareth Evans having replaced Schofield, and the midfielder fitted seamlessly into the pattern of play as Cole and his defenders quickly came under the cosh again.

Some resolute and determined rearguard play kept the Millers out, which was no mean feat, given the quality of some of the home side's inswinging corners.

Warren Feeney was introduced by Fletcher on the hour, in place of Young, with MacDonald dropping slightly back and wider.

The damn burst shortly afterwards when Cole's unconvincing drop out was returned by Evans. Purse challenged. Evans went down. Referee Carl Perry whistled and pointed to the penalty spot without, as they say, hesitation.

Jake Cole

Grabban, Purse's former Millwall team-mate, sent Cole the wrong way and Argyle were chasing the game.

Fletcher elected to do so with Joe Lennox as an attacking option, taking off Robbie Williams and moving Onismor Bhasera to left-back, and the young winger was immediately at the Millers' back line.

Jake Cole, rotherham goal

Suddenly, Argyle looked a massively different proposition and were a genuine attacking threat for the rest of the game. More so when Ashley Hemmings came on for MacDonald. At times, they were almost 4-2-4.

Roared on by nearly 450 members of the Green Army, they kept going until the end, to such an extent that they were so committed that, at one point, Rotherham had four on one in attack, and still could not score.

Purse

Rotherham United (4-4-2): 1 Rhys Taylor; 15 Mark Bradley, 24 Michael Raynes, 17 John Mullins, 26 Sam Wood; 18 Ben Pringle (10 Shaun Harrad 66), 8 Jason Taylor, 4 Danny Harrison (capt), 23 Lewis Grabban (2 Dale Tonge 89); 11 Danny Schofield (7 Gareth Evans half-time), 9 Alex Revell. Substitutes (not used): 21 Andy Warrington (gk), 28 Kieron Cadogan.

Booked: Taylor 90.

Argyle (4-4-2): 23 Jake Cole; 2 Durrell Berry, 5 Darren Purse, 22 Maxime Blanchard, 3 Robbie Williams (21 Joe Lennox 72); 15 Luke Young (11 Warren Feeney 60), 19 Paul Wotton, 8 Simon Walton (capt), 14 Onismor Bhasera; 29 Nick Chadwick, 32 Alex MacDonald (31 Ashley Hemmings 79). Substitutes (not used): 1 Romain Larrieu (gk), 20 Conor Hourihane.

Referee: Carl Berry.

Attendance: 3,475 (445 away).

Simon Walton

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