Millers Cobble Cobblers
New York Stadium
2 February 2013 3.00pm
Attendance: 7,739 (956 Cobblers)
What a difference a week makes when you're a Rotherham United fan!
After all the doom and gloom of last week a more than most would have expected crowd came to this afternoons game at the New York Stadium and saw the Millers take control of a game which could easily have taken a nasty turn or two and win comfortably three-one.
It was Northampton who had the first shot at goal in the opening minutes when Adebayo Akinfenwa (who for a large guy can still jump and pass a ball) who tried his luck but it didn't trouble Andy Warrington. A few minutes later Chris Hacket tried his luck but saw the ball go over the bar and at the other end Lee Nichols saved from Kayode Odejayi after a good move from debutant Jordan Slew who, a few minutes later, himself got to a Ben Pringle corner but saw it just go past the post. On twenty minutes the Cobblers nearly went in front when a swirling shot from Jake Robinson some thirty yards out smashed against the post and Mark Bradley stopped Akinfenwa doing anything with the rebound. And the woodwork took more hammering on thirty minutes when Daniel Nardiello did well to get past Joe Widdowson and hit a hopeful shot towards goal which hit the outside of the upright. On thirty-seven minutes a good ball from the lively Michael O'Connor to Liam Ridehalgh saw the Huddersfield Town loanee's shot hit the crossbar and rebound to safety. Although the Millers were definitely not getting anything from the officials and the Town players were getting away with climbing, pushing and punching but they were getting on top of the game and five minutes before half-time Ridehalgh put the ball into the area for Bradley who was brought down by Ben Harding and up stepped Nardiello to score from the spot - and then was duly booked after booting the ball into the home fans with jubilation (well actually, a Northampton player told tales on Nards to the ref).
The Millers came out for the second half with just one aim in mind - to win. Michael O'Connor and Jordan Slew saw shots blocked by Kelvin Langmead while Nicholls did well to save from Nardiello. Nardiello came close again a few minutes later but didn't quite get his header right while Bradley put a perfect ball in to Odejayi but the forwards header went over the bar. Akinfenwa caused a problem or two and slipped a through ball to Hackett whose first shot was cleared he got hold of the ball again and Andy Warrington did well with a reflex save to stop him scoring. On seventy-five minutes Ridehalgh put a ball forward which found Pringle and from twenty yards out his shot looked much too soft to beat the 'keeper but it did and went into the corner of the net. With Northampton looking deflated as well as defeated Nardiello ghosted into the box and only a smart save from Nicholls stopped the forward getting his second goal of the game. But two minutes later the Millers got the third when Nardiello curled a ball in bringing another save from Nicholls but David Noble was calm enough to control the loose ball on the bounce and slide it into the net from a few yards out. In the aftermath of the celebration we seemed to think Referee Miller (though in my eyes he's clearly neither) brandished a yellow card to someone, probably Slew. And it could have been four when a lovely floated in free-kick caused problems in the box for the visiting defence and which Nicholls could only palm away but there wasn't a Millers player there to take advantage. In the final minute of time added on the Cobblers got a consolation from Clarke Carlisle with a point-blank header which gave Warrington no chance.
I think there were as many sighs of relief around the NYS when the final whistle went today as there were cheers. It was a good performance - a team performance and I really don't think you can ask any more than that can you?