8 September 2012 3.00pm
Attendance: 5,544 (757 Millers)
Rotherham United crashed to a six-two loss this afternoon at Vale Park striker Tom Pope coming back to haunt his former club by scoring four of those six goals.
The Millers went behind on five minutes when referee Michael Russell waved play-on after David Noble was barged off the ball by Louis Dodds which led him to go forward and get the ball to Pope who in turn found Chris Shuker who, spotting that Dodds had kept running put a neat pass through to him and he put the ball into the back of the net under Scott Shearer in the Millers goal. On sixteen minutes Shuker managed to get the ball, which had come from a Millers corner, and he delivered a pin point cross to the head of Pope who put the ball into the back of the net. A few minutes later Vale should have been three up but Shearer did well to save from Jenison Myrie-Williams but on twenty minutes he was beaten again by Pope who scored from close-range with the Millers defence all at sixes and sevens. The nightmare went on when five minutes later Ashley Vincent, who was a summer target for the Millers, caught the Millers from their own corner and he set off running and didn`t stop until he`d put the ball past Shearer and into the back of the net to make it four-nil. Just after the half-hour mark the visitors did pull one back when a Gareth Evans` centre found Kayode Odejayi who in turn got the ball to Pringle who slipped the ball into the path of Michael O`Connor who put it past Chris Neal from close range.
The Millers came out better in the second half and Odejayi nearly skipped through to score before Daniel Nardiello was brought down what looked to be inside the penalty area. The referee gave the Millers a free-kick which, after a lot of arguing by the Millers players, O`Connor took. Going for goal the ball was blocked by a defender only for the referee to blow and point to the penalty spot - why? No one in the ground seemed to know. Nardiello took the spot kick and made it four-two. With that the Millers looked like they were going for it and the always vocal travelling fans sensed they could be in for a bit of a miracle. Unfortunately, it wasn`t to be and on sixty-eight minutes Pope was gifted his hat-trick when Johnny Mullins, who had been pushed to right-back, headed a Shuker free-kick against his own post and it fell to Pope who tapped it in. In the final ten minutes the Millers defence were all over the place again and a mix-up between Craig Morgan, on at half-time for Nicky Hunt, and Mullins ended up at the feet of the former Miller who rolled the ball into the net to make it six-two.
A really poor thirty minutes saw the Millers lose this game. It was shoddy defending at best with Laurence Wilson having a nightmare against the Vale strikers and Hunt still looking like he was carrying an injury. To me Morgan should have started the game with Hunt on the bench.