Rotherham achieved a priceless 1-0 victory at Ipswich on Saturday. They have now extended their unbeaten run to five games, winning four of the last five. This sees them move two points clear of the relegation zone, leapfrogging MK Dons and Fulham who both failed to match Rotherham’s result in their respective games.
The result is also a blow to Ipswich’s play-off hopes and their performance will have disappointed their fans and management team, as they were easily out battled by their opponents and Rotherham thoroughly deserved the victory.
Ipswich were the better of the two sides early on. They managed to create a few speculative chances without really troubling Rotherham keeper, Lee Camp. Rotherham frustrated their opponents as Ipswich failed to create any clear cut chances.
As the 1st half wore on Rotherham came into the game, creating numerous chances of their own. The visitors finished the half the stronger side, and they were rewarded with the opening goal a minute before the break.
The ball fell to Matt Derbyshire, who was playing as a makeshift winger. Derbyshire made some ground down the right wing before sending the ball into the box to an unmarked Leon Best, who’s scuffed shot beat Ipswich keeper, Bartosz Białkowski, and the ball found it’s way into the bottom corner.
Ipswich pilled on the pressure in the second half. They had the majority of possession, but were unable to force Lee Camp into making any spectacular saves, as all of Ipswich’s attempts on goal were comfortable for the keeper.
Ipswich’s best chance came in added time. Greg Halford failed to clear, which allowed Ben Pringle to have an attempt on goal. The former Rotherham player failed to find the target, as his shot went wide of the far post.
The evident delight from the Millers players at the end of the game shows how much this win means to the squad.
This has all been made possible by Neil Warnock, who has successfully created a great team cohesion which cannot be matched by any team other in the Championship.
Warnock has done a fantastic job thus far. On Saturday he once again got the game spot on tactically, as Rotherham restricted Ipswich to rare attempts on goal by managing to keep the home side’s forward line, which has caused problems for the majority of sides they have faced this season, quiet.
Mick McCarthy will be disappointed with his side’s display against Rotherham. Their play lacked quality and they struggled to break down the Millers who held firm throughout the encounter.
The factor which will have frustrated McCarthy the most is that Ipswich were outfought throughout the game by Rotherham, and it was clear that the visitors wanted the victory more than the Ipswich players.
The Ipswich manager spoke of his disappointment after the game on Saturday:
We deserved to get booed off. It was a poor performance but I take a big part of the responsibility for that. I left the team as it was on Tuesday (a 2-0 win over Blackburn) when in hindsight I should have changed it. Maybe they didn’t have the legs or energy. But all round the side, and I include myself, none of us came out of that with any glory.
Neil Warnock spoke of his delight with his sides performance after the game:
— Paul Davis (@paulm_davis) March 19, 2016
With this defeat, Ipswich are now four points adrift of Sheffield Wednesday in 6th place, after the South Yorkshire outfit consolidated their position in the play-offs with a 3-0 victory over Charlton on Saturday.
If Ipswich are going to sneak into the play-offs, their performances from now until the end of the season need to dramatically improve from the standard set on Saturday.
Nevertheless, they are fully capable of putting a good run together. They have quality throughout the squad and with players like Freddie Sears and Daryl Murphy, they will have the confidence that they can pick up points against any side in this division.
Meanwhile, things could not be going better for Neil Warnock and Rotherham United at this point in time.
After taking 13 points out of a possible 15 in their last five games, they have taken a step towards safety by moving two points clear of the relegation zone. The only team that has matched Rotherham’s run of form over the past five games are table toppers Burnley.
After the international break, Rotherham face Leeds United in what will be a heated Yorkshire derby, with both managers coming up against their former clubs. A win for Rotherham could see them move five points clear of the drop zone.
If the Millers do manage to stay up, it will be a phenomenal achievement for all involved and it would be seen as one of the greatest achievements of Neil Warnock’s managerial career.