Lessons need to be learned - and fast
Reporter: Matthew Chambers
Date online: 16 September 2013
Rotherham 3, Athletic 2
STEVE Evans has what Athletic are lacking at present.
Not the criminal conviction, nor the Scot’s barmy touchline antics; It’s the streetwise success.
In a crackling atmosphere at the superb New York Stadium, the wind-up king’s side held on, survived and then hit back to record a come-from-behind victory against 10 men which takes the Millers’ unbeaten league run to a dozen matches.
For all the plaudits his team’s football continued to attract after another exciting and enterprising effort on Saturday, Athletic’s manager Lee Johnson would kill for a record like Evans’ right now. This defeat was a fifth in seven Sky Bet League One matches.
Athletic have taken only three points when conceding the first goal, as they did here for the sixth time in seven games. That record isn’t remotely good enough for any team to be successful.
For all his filth and fury, Evans is smart enough to walk away from confrontation.
If only David Mellor had shown such good sense. Athletic were already under the pump, pressed and dominated all over the pitch and a goal down to another penalty — this time awarded after Matteo Lanzoni handled a Ben Pringle cross — which was converted by former Athletic loan striker Daniel Nardiello by the time of the young midfield man’s red-card offence.
Preferred to James Wesolowski from the start, the 20 year old from Shaw lashed out with his feet at Lee Frecklington after the Millers captain caught him with his studs. Referee Richard Clark, who will have more fair-handed afternoons, couldn’t wait to swing out the red card.
That was after only 41 minutes. Athletic had been stifled up to that point and the outlook was gloomy.
Then came the fightback. Cristian Montano suddenly sprung to life, racing 40 yards on the break before firing an excellent angled drive beyond the reach of Scott Shearer.
And after the break, as Athletic continued to press despite the numerical disadvantage, Joseph Mills’ terrific delivery was headed towards goal by Adam Rooney. Shearer parried, but only into the path of Lanzoni who did the rest.
Athletic’s boisterous 1,349 supporters went wild. A victory with 10 men was a tantalising possibility for 10 second-half minutes.
Then up stepped energetic Frecklington, heading home a corner past poor set-piece defending. And finally, Nardiello was again on the spot to slam home the winner in added time which sparked some lively Anglo-Saxon exchanges between the technical areas.
As Evans’ opposite number Johnson said earlier this season: When you win, you forget about it and move on.
The other side of the coin is that when you lose in this manner, you stew on it for days on end. Johnson will have had endured a terrible weekend, after a similarly terrible week.
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