Killer Kieffer and a fishy night out for the Warnes after Millers win: Rotherham United 1 Northampton Town 0

Killer Kieffer does it again. Pictures: Dean Atkins
Killer Kieffer does it again. Pictures: Dean Atkins

It was Mrs Warne’s birthday on Saturday, but no gifts were being handed out at AESSEAL New York Stadium.

Rotherham United were made to work for everything they got by a Northampton Town side putting in 100 per cent effort for new boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.

Kieffer Moore puts the Millers in front

Kieffer Moore puts the Millers in front

The goals have been flying in at home for Paul Warne’s men but, in many ways, victory by a tight margin meant even more to the manager than the high fives that have put the Millers among the top scorers in the country.

New York romps are great and to be savoured, but hard-fought 1-0s are the bread and butter of a successful campaign, particularly when the finger has been pointed at your set-piece defensive frailty.

With his wife watching from the West Stand, Warne was delighted by his side’s resilience when they held out in the face of late Cobblers pressure after League One’s joint leading marksman, Kieffer Moore, had put away his ninth goal in 11 league matches.

“I am really pleased with the way we defended in the last 10 minutes,” the boss said. “Kieffer will get the headlines, but it is about all the back five, who were excellent.”

Ryan Williams is denied

Ryan Williams is denied

Rotherham are now up to eighth place, just two points off the play-off places.

They created enough chances to score five goals for the fourth time in six home fixtures, yet one will do very nicely when it’s accompanied by a clean sheet.

Just the away form - three points from a possible 15 - to sort out now.

THE MATCH

Marek Rodak

Marek Rodak

As the rain bounced down in the second half and Warne shivered on the touchline, Northampton did nothing to help matters by bringing on a substitute called Waters.

At least the Millers had a Towell on hand.

Midfield man Richie was quality, his close control and vision making him a constant threat. Just behind him, Darren Potter was equally as good, cutting out danger, respecting the ball, keeping his side moving.

Moore, meanwhile, was having a birthday of his own against the Cobblers centre-halves, neither of whom could handle him on the floor or in the air.

Lee Frecklington has a discussion with Trevor Kettle

Lee Frecklington has a discussion with Trevor Kettle

He was denied three times in the space of two minutes before the quarter-hour mark, rounding the goalkeeper and seeing Ash Taylor clear off the line, smashing the ball towards goal and watching Aaron Pierre pull off a stunning block, then heading over from the ensuing corner.

His moment came in the 55th minute when Shaun Cummings shot, goalkeeper Matt Ingram saved and the striker pounced for his ninth return of a very happy season.

“I thought it was a good finish, said Warne. “He could have had another couple. We are really pleased with him. He’s a great kid. He works hard all the time and he is just one of a good group we have got.”

The visitors twice went close early on through George Smith and Daniel Powell, but Rotherham were on top by the break.

Michael Ihiekwe’s 25th-minute shot was heading for the top corner until Ingram spectacularly intervened and the centre-half was denied from a tight angle by a goalline clearance on the stroke of half-time after a clever free-kick link-up between Towell and Joe Newell.

Rodak kept the Millers in front with smart stops from Powell and Billy Waters, but in the final 20 minutes Ihiekwe, after a brilliant first touch, Moore, heading against the bar, and substitutes Jonson Clarke-Harris and Will Vaulks should all have increased the lead.

Some supporters weren’t happy at how often the keeper punched rather than caught the ball, but Warne and his players saw it differently.

“In the dressing room after the game, the lads were all congratulating Marek because he just kept coming and getting it out of the box,” the manager said. “On a wet day, if the keeper comes and drops it at a striker’s feet, I am not best pleased.”

Vaulks was played clean through by a perfect dink over the top by Newell in time added in but fired horribly wide with the goal at his mercy.

The sub held his head in his hands. He knew Newell’s pass was a present Warne’s missus would probably have scored from.

THE REF

Ah, the irony. Trevor Kettle, the official Rotherham followers love to hate, was the subject of angry “The referee’s a w*nker” chants at New York, only they didn’t come from home fans.

It was the Cobblers contingent in the away end taking exception this time. His performance wasn’t without flaw but, to be fair, was nothing like as bad as Millers followers have endured in the past.

If you didn’t already know it was him, you wouldn’t have guessed.

He was still booed by home supporters at the end, obviously. Old habits die hard.

THE MEAL

Rotherham’s manager is so set against spending his money that the Warne version of Carlos Carvalhal bashing up a £20 note at a Press conference would be the Millers boss taking a hammer to a 50-pence piece.

Yet, despite spending much of the week moaning about having to go to Meadowhall to buy her a few bits and pieces, he was still treating the lovely Rachel to a meal out after the match.

“I am going with her and my brother and his wife,” he revealed soon after the final whistle. “My children aren’t happy because they haven’t been invited. They are disgusted because the Warne giblets love a good trough.

“I will leave here buzzing and then at about 9pm someone will hit me with an elephant dart and I will want to get home and watch Match of the Day.”

As Warne munched on his halibut and peanut-butter cheesecake (shared with his loved one) at a little bistro in Bawtry, he might have reflected on five league wins in six New York matches.

Home form worth celebrating almost as much as Mrs W’s big day.

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