Holy trinity

Rotherham United win Holy Trinity in crazy game against Accrington Stanley

RED CARD: Rotherham United captain Richard Wood

Dan Barlaser’s volley goal deserved to win the game but in truth Rotherham should not have done it. Thanks to an 88th-minute penalty save from Josh VIckers, Mitch Clark’s shot against the post in the extra seventh minute and a few more close shaves, they did it.

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Although they had a six-point lead at the top of the standings, it was far from a perfect day for the Millers. They lost a centre-back, Michael Ihiekwe, to injury and another, Richard Wood, was sent off after conceding the penalty saved by Vickers.

And yet another incident of idiotic behavior by a Rotherham supporter will have the authorities asking the club some unwanted questions. There followed the disrespect of a minute’s silence in Fleetwood Town and an object thrown at the linesman in Crewe Alexandra.

A supporter ran onto the pitch as Harry Pell lined up his 88th-minute penalty, kicked the ball in place, then threw his body at the taker, not brave enough to throw a punch, which was all as well for him. At least one other fan ran behind him.

The frenetic nature of the last 10 minutes was totally out of step with what had happened before.

For an hour at New York Stadium, we wondered where a goal was going to come from.

Rotherham grafted hard – they invariably do – but so did Stanley, and in doing so they frustrated the hosts and their supporters almost as much as referee Andy Woolmer bored both teams.

Despite all the possessions of the Millers, the chances of goal proved difficult to seize.

The stake increased after the restart as the home side played with more verve, but the match still seemed to be deadlocked.

Then, after 58 minutes, a deep free kick was headed in and Barlaser produced the kind of volley that professional footballers dream of.

If you thought that was it, however, you would be very wrong.

After Tuesday’s walk in the park at Doncaster Rovers, it was no surprise that Stanley had been harder to break after already beating them twice this season.

The game took 20 minutes to move past the monotony, with Rotherham dominating the ball and Accrington hinting at a counter-attacking threat, but none of that meant much.

The only chance of note at this stage was Ross Sykes’ header from a free-kick won by Lewis Mansell heading for the inside right channel – Accrington’s most promising avenue – and knocked down by Richard Wood. The head, however, was directly on Vickers.

Woolmer hosted the game, though that’s about the only good thing you can say about his erratic performance.

He booked Shane Ferguson in the 20th minute, sprinting to face God knows what in the Accrington penalty area and the moment he did, forgetting who he granted it against. Even though he was right on the touchline, he did not address his linesman but the fourth official on the opposite side to identify the wing-back. At least it was a correct decision, the Northern Ireland international having left some on his man, but the way it was taken only undermined confidence in a referee who quickly lost control of the procedure.

When Ollie Rathbone was cautioned three minutes later for another foul, the home crowd were sold out.

In the meantime, Will Grigg had three good chances, picking up a fine pass from Barlaser and producing a shot which Toby Savin saved, seeing Sykes clear the follow-up and then inflating his third shot.

Savin’s time-wasting antics were also a great frustration for the home fans and it was remarkable that it took until first-half stoppage time – bizarrely just two minutes – for him to be warned. Even more incredible, his manager John Coleman complained and suffered the same fate.

Although the keeper gave him plenty of kicks to dwell on, while winning their fair share of corners, he had little to do when it came to shot-saving.

Rathbone dug in a shot after taking a ball from Wes Harding then traded tight passes from Michael Smith but went wide.

Rotherham’s only other notable chance was a header that Michael Ihiekwe should have put in from a corner. Sykes hit a pea roll at Vickers.

Barlaser’s marvelous goal was a fitting reward for a brighter start to the second half and when Grigg fired the ball back to Rathbone two minutes later his shot from 25 yards nearly doubled the lead.

Jay Rich-Baghuelou nearly missed a Barlaser cross but soon Rotherham set up to hold their lead and for a long time it looked like they would.

The first real sign they might not have come in the 84th minute when Vickers saved Sean McConville and Tommy Leigh’s shot was cleared from the line.

There was a similar pinball two minutes later, but this ended with Wood receiving his marching orders as McConville’s shot hit his hand.

As Pell lined up the kick, a fan emerged from behind the goal to cause pandemonium. When sanity was finally restored, the kick was poor and Vickers nipped it well.

A fine pass from Rathbone freed Ben Wiles one-on-one, but Savin emerged victorious and the rest of the extra eight minutes inevitably went to the other end.

In the seventh of them, Clark hit the post in another scramble.

Rotherham had taken their chance and emerged victorious.

Rotherham United: Vickers; Harding, Wood, Ihiekwe (Matte 62); Barlaser; Ogbene, Wiles, Rathbone, Ferguson (Miller 73); Smith, Grigg (Kayode 77).

Substitutes not used: Johansson, Lindsay, Odoffin, Ladapo.

Accrington Stanley: Savin; Sykes, Nottingham, Rich-Baghuelou; Conneely (Leigh 62), Clark, Butcher, Hamilton; Amankwah (Pell 38), McConville; Mansell (Adedoyin 50).

Substitutes not used: Rodgers, O’Sullivan, Isherwood, Longelo.

Arbitrator: A Woolmer (Northamptonshire).