Millers hit five....
FIVE-STAR Rotherham United earned their first Sky Bet League One victory of the season, in some style, as they put Southend United to the sword following a superb attacking display.
Ipswich loanee Kieffer Moore became an instant hit with the Millers’ fans following a first-half hat-trick, in his first league start, while further strikes from Joe Newell and Ryan Williams put the icing on the cake on a polished home performance.
Following their hard-fought Carabao Cup victory over Lincoln City, Millers chief Paul Warne kept faith with his starting line-up for the visit of the Shrimpers.
The home side had the first sight of goal when Joe Mattock was bundled over by Jermaine McGlashan and from the resultant free-kick, Newell swung an inviting centre which saw Moore emerge from the ruck of bodies in the box to plant a downward header which forced Mark Oxley to scurry across his line to parry the ball to safety.
In a fast Millers start, Williams had a shot blocked en-route to goal before Darren Potter stabbed an effort harmlessly over the Southend bar.
Moments later, dazzing footwork from Newell forced McGlashan into a clumsy foul and the ex-Peterborough midfielder almost made the visitors pay with another tantalising centre which saw Semi Ajayi rise highest in the six-yard box but he couldn’t control his header as it failed to trouble the visitors goal.
The Millers were almost rewarded for their whirlwind opening when good work from Moore and Williams paved the way for Lee Frecklington to dart into space to fizz a superb centre which was inch-perfect for Proctor, whose powerful header flew narrowly over the visitors bar.
However, Southend failed to heed the warning as Rotherham broke the deadlock on the quarter hour when Potter charged down a visitors clearance before showing good awareness to flick the ball into the path of Williams, who charged into the box, before playing a perfectly-weighted pass into the path of Moore, who calmly slid the ball under the body of Oxley.
The Millers were visibly lifted by the breakthrough and they doubled their lead, just a minute later, when a ball into the channel by Newell saw Proctor ghost away from his marker to play a superb ball across the face of goal and Moore, who had got on the wrong side of his marker, kept his nerve to slip the ball into the bottom corner of the visitors net.
In Southend’s first forays of note, Ryan Leonard shot harmlessly wide from distance before Simon Cox almost caught the Millers napping following a quickly-taken free-kick but he headed over the bar.
However, normal service was resumed when the Millers added a third goal on 23 minutes when Mattock’s incisive pass presented Frecklington with the chance to race into the box before feeding Proctor, with his back to goal, and the frontman’s lay-off gave Newell, the opportunity to strike with his less favoured right-foot and the ball flew off his boot to beat the outstretched hand of Oxley to find the far corner of the visitors goal.
The shell shocked Shrimpers seemingly made a tactical substitution to stem the Millers tide with Rob Kiernan entering the fray but the home side were running riot and Proctor fired narrowly wide following Williams’ slide-rule pass but any goal would have been ruled out for offside.
Moments later, Newell swung a delicious corner in the danger area and Moore, who was proving a thorn in Southend’s side, shrugged off the attentions of his nearest marker, to power a point-blank header over the bar, in arguably his easiest chance of the half.
Great tenacity on halfway from the likes of Williams and Proctor brought the AESSEAL New York Stadium to its feet before Cox summed up Southend’s first-half frustration when he saw yellow for persistent offending.
With half-time approaching, Newell planted the ball forward and after Proctor won the battle of wills with his marker, he played the ball back into the path of the ex-Peterborough midfielder, who drilled a low effort which forced Oxley into a smart, low save to his left.
However, the Millers capped a superb half of fine-flowing football with a fourth goal on the stroke of half-time when a clipped ball over the top saw Proctor show the Southend defence a clean pair of heels to plant a ball across the face of goal and Moore was the grateful recipient as he calmly struck a low effort which arrowed into the bottom corner of the net giving Oxley no chance.
Half-time:- Rotherham United 4 Southend United 0
Following the interval, the Millers were indebted to Michael Ihiekwe for a timely clearing header before Newell blasted over from distance, at the other end.
In a frenetic sixty seconds, Southend almost pulled one back when the Millers were caught napping at the back and Marc-Antoine Fortune and Michael Kightly were denied by Richard O’Donnell before Proctor’s superb through ball put Williams in the clear but Oxley denied the Australian with a smart save at his feet.
In the Millers’ next attack, Williams was inches away from connecting with Mattock’s darting run and cross, with the goal at his mercy but the ex-Barnsley midfielder was not to be denied, as he notched his first goal for the club soon after.
There looked little danger for the visitors until Proctor’s swept a ball to the right flank and Moore took the ball in his stride before firing a cross-cum-shot across goal and with neither Oxley and the Southend defender in a position to intervene, Williams had the simple task of tapping home into the unguarded net.
With the game as good as over, Fortune stung the palms of O’Donnell with a snap shot before Moore was withdrawn from the proceedings, just seconds after seeing yellow following an aerial clash with Leonard, to a standing ovation from the AESSEAL New York Stadium faithful.
Substitute David Ball almost nipped in with a sixth goal but he was denied by the legs of Oxley before Southend’s miserable afternoon was summed up when sub Theo Robinson got behind the Rotherham defence to play a ball across the box where Fortune looked a certain scorer, but the visitors’ striker smashed his effort against the foot of the post, before the ball was scrambled to safety.
Full-time:- Rotherham United 5 Southend United 0
Rotherham United 5
Southend United 0
Teams:- Rotherham- O’Donnell, Emmanuel, Mattock, Ajayi, Frecklington (Vaulks 65), Proctor, Potter, Ihiekwe, Newell, Williams (Forde 77), Moore (David Ball 71). Unused- Bilboe, Taylor, Purrington, Yates.
Southend- Oxley, Hendrie, Ferdinand (McLaughlin 66), Kightly, Timlin, Fortune, Cox (Robinson 59), McGlashan (Kiernan 27), Leonard, Demetriou, White. Unused- Smith, Ba, Yearwood, Kyprianou.
Referee- M Salisbury
Attendance- 8,004 (592)