Rotherham United match verdict and reaction: Millers 4 Bolton 0

Kirk Broadfoot before his 90th-minute rant! Pictures: Jim Brailsford
Kirk Broadfoot before his 90th-minute rant! Pictures: Jim Brailsford

There were just seconds to go and Rotherham United were leading 4-0 in front of a sold-out home crowd brimming with festive spirit, yet Kirk Broadfoot was in a right old temper.

Visitors Bolton had come close to spoiling the Millers’ clean sheet and the grizzled defender, after yet another imperious display at centre-half, wasn’t having any of it.

Grant Ward and the Millers celebrate the opener

Grant Ward and the Millers celebrate the opener

He furiously questioned his teammates, screamed at himself, bawled at the ball and eyeballed unsuspecting Wanderers supporters in row F.

And in doing so he embodied the spirit which now sees his side out of the Championship’s bottom three after two successive wins and and four victories in their last seven games, all of which have been achieved without conceding a goal.

That Yorkshire derby defeat at Huddersfield which sparked manager Neil Redfearn’s infamous blast about his players finding alternative employment at a DIY superstore, mentioned again in the after-match press conference, now seems just a blip rather than a reflection of the Millers’ prospects.

Broadfoot was one of the few players to escape Redfearn’s wrath that December 15 night in West Yorkshire and contributed his own B&Q moment of a scintillating second-half Rotherham display on Saturday with his late rant: Ballistic Querying.

Lee Frecklington and scorer Danny Ward enjoy the second goal

Lee Frecklington and scorer Danny Ward enjoy the second goal

“We have got an experienced player who is playing at the height of his powers in Kirk Broadfoot,” said manager Neil Redfearn. “He marshals that back four really well and we are difficult to break down and play through now whereas before we were too easy to open up.”

Following on from their 2-0 triumph over Hull City a week earlier, Rotherham took Bolton apart after the break at AESSEAL New York Stadium. Neil Lennon’s men may be bottom of the table and have waved the white flag when the second goal went in, but they arrived with six draws from their last 10 matches and had been nobody’s pushovers.

Ever the pragmatist, Redfearn was as pleased with the 0 as he was the 4.

“What’s started to happen now is that we have got resilience and the players trust the shape,” he added. “When they get back and recover, they’ve got compactness.

Four goals in seven games for Joe Newell

Four goals in seven games for Joe Newell

“The most important thing that gets missed a little bit is the clean sheets. Keeping clean sheets is actually affecting our goal difference by a large amount. That’s starting to tell and make a difference. It is now like another point.”

The first half was a tense, scrappy affair which gave no hint of the carnage which would follow. Rotherham needed a superb save from Lee Camp to stop the visitors taking the lead when Zach Clough scampered through while Danny Ward wasted a golden chance when his first touch was too heavy and his shot too weak after Tony Andreu had played him clean through.

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After the break, it was festive fare at its finest. The first goal was always going to be crucial and Grant Ward supplied it from outside the area in the 56th minute as he controlled Andreu’s corner and crashed the ball with his left foot through the hands of Bolton goalkeeper Ben Amos.

Jonson Clarke-Harrison wraps up proceedings

Jonson Clarke-Harrison wraps up proceedings

Eighteen minutes later, Danny Ward latched on to Joe Newell’s pass, rounded Amos, looked to have taken the ball too far to his left and then redeemed himself with a fierce finish from a tight angle.

In the last quarter of an hour, with New York in full voice, Newell, fed by Andreu, slid the ball under Amos for his fourth goal in his last seven outings and substitute Jonson Clarke-Harris steered the ball home after a stunning supply by that man, Andreu, again.

B&Q? Bolton Quashed.

There were so many other opportunites, for Broadfoot, Joe Mattock, Andreu, Clarke-Harris and Grant Ward, that Rotherham could, quite conceivably, have doubled their winning margin.

The Millers’ run - ”Play-off form,” said Redfearn while making no attempt whatsoever to suggest his men are protential top-six contenders - has coincided with Broadfoot’s return to the team at Leeds United last month.

Meanwhile, for the second week in a row, lone striker Danny Ward departed proceedings late on to a standing ovation. After his all-action display against Hull last week, his first goal of the season against the Trotters capped another fine showing.

Only Santa himself has delivered more this Christmas than the 24-year-old forward.

“I’m chuffed to bits for him because he really led the line well,” Redfearn said. “He got hold of it. It’s a tough role playing the lone striker. The beauty of it now is that he knows that support is going to get up there quickly. We really broke well and looked menacing.

“There’s a long way to go. We have to not get ahead of ourselves. We have to just try to keep picking points up. If we can’t win, then don’t get beat and get a point nearer to where we want to go.

“The message has always been ‘Get the performances right’, and they have been, by and large, in the last seven games. The results are starting to mirror the performances.

“Bolton are no mugs. You look at their back four, Dorian Dervite, David Wheater ... You’re talking about people who have played at a higher level.”

The large away following hated what they were seeing as much as the home supporters loved it and afterwards the Wanderers team bus had a brick thrown through it. Tough times for the financially-stricken club. First their defence smashed to pieces and then their coach window.

This Boxing Day massacre was the Trotters’ worst defeat of the season and also the Millers’ biggest win since their return to the second tier in 2014.

Redfearn had the last word on the B&Q defeat of 13 days ago, delighted his idea to galvanise his players by having a go at them has worked so well.

“Football is like anything else, you have always got to have a cause,” said Redfearn. “What happened after Huddersfield is that I gave them a cause. I have said all along I will be their best friend or their worst enemy and they’ll decide that. It looks like they have decided which they want it to be.”

His bezzie at the moment must be Colossus Kirk, the man who erupted so spectacularly in the 90th minute when Clough almost reduced the arrears, denied by another Camp save.

The 31-year-old Scottish international was desperately close to a goal of his own when his 72nd-minute header from Newell’s cross brought the stop of the day from Amos, but it’s his work at the other end of the pitch with young partner Farrend Rawson which is doing much to underpin Rotherham’s progress.

Broadfoot. Quality.

Rotherham United (4-2-3-1): Camp 8; Richardson 7, Rawson 8, Broadfoot 9, Mattock 8; Smallwood 9, Frecklington 8; G Ward 7, Andreu 8, Newell 8 (Green 90+1), D Ward 8 (Clarke-Harris 80). Subs not used: Collin, Collins, Thorpe, Ledesma, Derbyshire.

Bolton Wanderers (4-4-2): Amos 6; Holding 6, Dervite 5, Wheater 6, Moxey 7; Spearing 5(Silva 61, 6), Pratley 5, Danns 6, Feeney 6; Heskey 5 (Madine 47, 6), Clough 6. Subs not used: Rachubka, Prince, Derik, Dobbie, Twardzik.

Goals: G Ward 56, D Ward 74, Newell 80, Clarke-Harris 86.

Referee: Geoff Eltringham (County Durham).

Attendance: 11,315 (1,783).