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Joe's praise for match winner Tom

7 April 2014

Joe Skarz talks to

Defender Joe Skarz was quick to pay tribute to the super-sub heroics of Tom Hitchcock as his superb second-half hat-trick saw Rotherham United snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in a see-saw battle with Gillingham on Saturday.

The Millers had the QPR loanee to thank for extending their unbeaten run to 16 games as they trailed to Peter Taylor's men twice at Priestfield Stadium, latterly with just six minutes to go.

However, Hitchcock stunned the home faithful by bagging a hat-trick, including a decisive winner in second-half stoppage time, to help the Millers turn the game on its head and move up to third in the League One standings.

Speaking exclusively to following the clash, Skarz was full of praise for the 'shock and awe' impact of his colleague.

"Hitch came on and scored one of the best hat-tricks you'll ever see," he enthused.

"His finishing was great to watch and it was no surprise to me, as he does that every day in training.

"We're all delighted for him as he has worked hard and he has had to wait for his chance."

The Millers looked finished when Bradley Dack put the Gills ahead for the second time with a superb individual effort of his own before Hitchcock pounced on Adam Barrett's mistake to level matters.

With the game on a knife edge, Hitchcock latched onto on a hopeful punt from James Tavernier to control with a sublime touch before executing a delightful lob over 'keeper Stuart Nelson to send the loyal band of travelling supporters into delirium and leave Skarz eulogising over the never-say-die spirit of his side.

"We never know when we are beaten and we'll always keep going to the end," he added.

"Everyone could see our intention to win the game and although as a defender, I'm disappointed we conceded three goals, we showed great character to come back.

"The last goal shocked me, not that Hitch did it, but the way he brought the ball down and nonchalantly chipped the 'keeper."
The tone of the afternoon was set when Kieran Agard kept up his red-hot scoring form after just 13 seconds and after Lee Frecklington had a strong penalty claim denied, Adebayo Akinfenwa nodded home an equaliser prior to the break.

Myles Weston then broke the Millers' offside trap to put the Gills in charge following the restart before Hitchcock's inspired introduction to the fray, which proved a nightmare for the Kent side, who are yet to guarantee their League One survival.

However, Skarz believes the Gillingham side have enough in the locker to stave off the threat of relegation after putting the frighteners on Steve Evans' high-flying outfit.

"It was a topsy-turvy afternoon and it must have been a great game for a neutral," he added.

"I thought we could have put the game to bed in the first half and kicked on from the great start we had but we knew they were a good side and they came on strong at the end of the first half.

"Some big teams have failed to win here as it's a tough place to come, but we showed good spirit and we are all delighted with the win."

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