Rotherham Away Won 0 – 2
Loan activity in the January transfer window was never going to affect the starting line-up when Manager Martin puts his F.A. Cup experiments behind him, at least for a few days. Each league game brings with it the prospect of a banana skin to end the unbeaten run, so it was good to start a first visit to the new Rotherham stadium (the third venue where we’ve visited these opponents) with an early goal. This came in the fourth minute when a corner bounced around the business end of the penalty box until Bednarek had the presence of mind to head it in. Those whose glasses are perpetually half empty still had memories of the Millers’ one-shot steal at St. Mary’s so it was good to see the team pressing for a second that nearly came when Fraser hammered a shot against the post. No matter, the same player was later to contribute to a goal when he back-heeled into the path of Adam Armstrong whose first time shot found the net despite Johansson’s efforts to keep it out. Almost immediately Johansson was more successful with a brilliant save to deny Smallbone while Bazanu at that stage had been untested. He did have a save to make in the little time remaining before the break but Saints went on to control the second half with 74% overall possession and delighting the manager with over 700 completed passes. It’s difficult to recall much of Rotherham’s 26% share of the ball being near to goal and even the long throw ploy that they clearly rely upon posed little threat. Bearing all that in mind, the margin of victory could have been higher but Johansson was named the home team’s man of the match with a string of saves, notably two from Adam Armstrong in the second half where the forward might be thinking that he should have done better. Both Bournemouth loanees made it onto the pitch: Rothwell is still struggling to prove that he is better than Charles but Brooks looks as though he will cause opponents trouble at this level… and so he should, but he kept Dibling and fit-again Edozie on the bench while Amo-Ameyaw couldn’t make the squad. Usually it’s nice to watch the game clock ticking on when in control but the New York Stadium’s scoreboard keeps that information to itself, although it did keep us updated on Ipswich’s demise at Preston and the goals going in past Holgate and his fellow defenders down the road in Sheffield.
Three LSSC Man of the Match candidates to choose from:
16. Will Smallbone, but mainly for his first half efforts.
26. Ryan Fraser, but mainly for his first half efforts (and a memorable assist).
35. Jan Bednarek. The total control exerted by the defence allowed Saints to play, plus there was that goal.