I had never been to Rotherham, so this midweek trip to South Yorkshire to visit a new ground was hotly anticipated. However, when I researched places to stay, there didn’t seem to be anywhere in the vicinity of the ground or the station, so I decided on a hotel in Sheffield, which had the added benefit of pre-match drinks at my favourite away pub. There was some concern that our libations might be interrupted by the arrival of hoards from Millwall, who were playing at Hillsborough, but we escaped with no sign of the Lions.
After the short drive to Rotherham, we parked up next to the ground for the princely sum of £2. The New York stadium looked impressive from the outside, although I was disappointed to find that there was no scoreboard. On hearing the team news, there was much discussion of the wholesale changes with concern expressed at the omission of both Abdi and Tözsér, plus all of our dead-ball specialists. The starting line-up was Gomes, Hoban, Angella, Tamas, Paredes, Fabbrini, Munari, Andrews, Anya, Deeney and Vydra. The teams emerged to “New York, New York”, but the pre-match cider and the position of the seat in front of me meant that, for the good of my health, high-kicking was kept to a minimum.
Rotherham threatened in the first minute as Revell tried a shot from distance that flew well wide of the far post. Soon after, Parades gave the ball away to Taylor who found Pringle whose shot was weak and straight at Gomes.
On 11 minutes, Fabbrini was taken down just outside the box. Vydra’s free-kick was woeful and flew well over the bar. At the other end, Revell got on the end of a cross, but hit it wide of the target. Watford had a shout for a penalty as a high ball into the box reached Deeney who went down under a challenge from Collin, but the referee waved play on. Just before the half hour, we saw the first decent chance of the game which fell to Rotherham’s Pringle whose curling shot was pushed around the post by Gomes. Pringle took the resulting corner which was headed over the bar by Morgan. Hoban played a good ball to Deeney who headed it on to Anya, but his looping shot was easily gathered by Collin. Taylor tried a shot from the edge of the area, but it was well over the target. Taylor threatened again as he went on a run into the box but his shot was blocked by Angella. On the stroke of half time, a shot from Frecklington flew wide of the far post. In time added on, Anya hit a shot into the side netting. It had been a poor first half, with Pringle’s shot the only one to test either of the keepers.
In the first minute of the second half, Morgan received a pass from Pringle but his shot was well over the bar. Vydra found Andrews who turned and shot, it was blocked and fell to Munari whose follow-up shot was also blocked. At this point, the travelling Hornets expressed their displeasure with the personnel currently on the pitch by chanting the names of Abdi and Forestieri. Just before the hour, there was a card for each side as Morgan was booked for a foul on Deeney and Andrews saw yellow for taking Green down just before Vydra was replaced by Ighalo. Watford’s first decent attack came soon after as Deeney broke forward, passed to Anya on the left who played a low cross into the box which Ighalo hit past Collin, but the linesman was flagging for offside. The next chance fell to Munari, but his shot from distance was well over the bar. Sannino’s next change was to bring Dyer on for Fabbrini.
On 70 minutes, we lost possession from a throw-in, Tidser was powering forward when Tamas brought him down and was shown a yellow card. From our vantage point, the foul appeared to have been in the area, but the free-kick was taken from outside the box and Taylor hit it well over the bar. We finally made a breakthrough with our first decent shot on target as Ighalo’s initial attempt was saved, the ball dropped to Dyer who buried it past Collin. The goal celebration was somewhat surprising as Dyer didn’t stop to receive the congratulations of his team mates, but went running back up the pitch, apparently to berate the manager. At this point, the travelling fans were feeling more kindly towards Sannino and started chanting his name. Rotherham tried to hit back immediately with a shot from Swift that was just over the bar. Hoban played a lovely ball over the top to Ighalo who went down in the box, when he should have stayed on his feet and tried the shot as he was never going to win a penalty.
With 10 minutes remaining, Tözsér replaced Anya. Troy tried a shot from the half way line that flew over the bar. Then Smallwood took Dyer down and ran off with his hands raised, gesturing his innocence, but turned around to see the referee brandishing a yellow card. From the resulting free-kick, Deeney’s shot was parried by Collin before being cleared. Our second goal was a rare moment of quality as Tommie Hoban ran to the byeline before playing a lovely low cross to Munari who buried it from close range. In time added on, Taylor tried a shot from the left which was well over the bar. The final whistle went to loud cheers from the travelling Hornets. It has to be said that 2-0 flattered us. It had been a disappointing performance saved by a couple of moments of quality. It was also worrying to see Vydra limping badly as he came over to applaud the fans.
Back to the car and we were on the road in no time, with plenty of time for a nightcap before heading back to the hotel. The game had been low on entertainment, but the company was great which is what makes these midweek trips worthwhile.