Below-par Torquay United fortunate to escape from Rotherham with one-goal loss
Do not let the scoreline deceive you. This was about as comprehensive as a 1-0 win can be.
Rotherham United could have triumphed by five goals or more without reply, but, fortunately for beleaguered Torquay United, they left their shooting boots at home. On this evidence, Martin Ling's side have a long way to go before they can be considered even play-offs contenders in npower League Two.
Such were the deficiencies evident on Saturday that you had to wonder how Torquay managed to arrive in South Yorkshire unbeaten in five League matches so far this season. A particular bugbear was what Ling later described as the "corridor of uncertainty" between goalkeeper Michael Poke and his defence.
On far too many occasions the back five were left shooting words and glares of accusation and blame at each other, following yet another mix-up.
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Most of the time, Rotherham, with manager Steve Evans serving the first of a six match stadium ban, were too wasteful to capitalise. Nevertheless, it was one of these kamikaze moments which handed the Millers all three points.
In the 34th minute, Poke, Kevin Nicholson and Brian Saah found themselves dithering over which one of them should deal with a loose ball inside the Gulls' penalty area. If in doubt, thump it out, or so you would have thought.
Except neither Nicholson or Saah did. Thank you very much, said Rotherham striker Alex Revell, who waded into the confusion to score the only goal of the game.
The Millers had lost their previous match 6-2 at Port Vale, so the potential for a backlash was always there, yet the home side cannot have expected the visitors to be so accommodating. A full list of Rotherham's misses would exceed this match report, and then some. Worth mentioning, however, were efforts by Kayode Odejayi and substitute Daniel Nardiello which struck the woodwork.
Then there was the air-kick from Revell with the goal at his mercy, the wasteful close-range header from the unmarked Ian Sharps which sailed wide, a candidate for miss of the season from Odejayi after Poke fumbled the ball into his path, the grass-cutter from Ben Pringle, which passed within inches of the goalkeeper's left-hand post, the farcical passage of play when a slip by Aaron Downes let in Odejayi, who rounded the advancing Poke before dithering for so long that Downes was able to get back and clear the Rotherham striker's eventual shot off the line. You get the picture.
In fact, Rotherham squandered so many opportunities that you half-expected the Gulls to deliver the ultimate sucker-punch by breaking up the other end to score.
Amazingly, given their inability to create almost anything of note inside Rotherham's half, it could have happened. With nine minutes of normal time remaining, Niall Thompson, a 59th-minute substitution for Danny Stevens, broke down the right flank and crossed low in the direction of Billy Bodin, Ling's £70,000 summer capture from Swindon Town.
Bodin wasted the opportunity by slamming a first-time shot high into the stands behind Rotherham's goal. And, with that ,went Torquay's one opportunity to snatch a highly unlikely and, it has to be said, undeserved point.
In all likelihood, the Gulls will probably look back on this as just a bad day at the office. However, there can be no escaping the fact that an uncomfortable number of players under-performed at Rotherham's impressive new arena.
It may be early in the season, but suddenly there is a lot riding on tomorrow night's trip to Wimbledon.