Rotherham United: Millers impress Rafa Benitez as Alan Stubbs blasts referee
Rival boss Rafa Benitez has tipped bottom club Rotherham United to haul themselves out of the Championship drop zone.
Benitez’s Newcastle United side beat the Millers 1-0 amid refereeing controversy at sold-out New York Stadium on Saturday.
But the Toon manager, who has won the Champions League with Liverpool and has occupied the Real Madrid hot-seat, saw enough from the home side to believe they’re in a false position.
“They were pushing and pushing us and with that kind of play they will win games and be higher in the table,” he said.
Rotherham put their big-spending visitors under pressure for much of the game and deserved some reward, but were undone by a goal which came as a result of an error by Premier League offical Roger East.
The third-placed Magpies scored in the 41st minute through Christian Atsu after a clear two-handed push by Ciaran Clark on home captain Lee Frecklington went unpunished.
Fuming Millers manager Alan Stubbs accused East of seeking a moment in the limelight.
The match was featured on Saturday night on television and Stubbs said: “We’ve been harshly penalised for their goal. It’s been a very easy game to officiate but for some reason the man in the middle has wanted to get involved. Maybe because it’s the headline game on TV he wants some of the attention.
“He’s got a big one wrong. There are two hands on Frecks. If you see it back, it’s blatantly obvious.”
Midfielder Tom Adeyemi limped out of the clash with a calf injury and will be monitored during the international break, while Joe Mattock had to withdraw during the warm-up with a tight calf.
He was replaced at left-back by Darnell Fisher, with Greg Halford coming off the bench to play in Fisher’s place on the right of the defence
Dominic Ball, who had a fine game at centre-half alongside fellow youngster Dael Fry, said: “I don’t think the team were disrupted too much actually.
“It’s obviously disappointing to lose a player, but every other player is individually focused on their own performance and there wasn’t that much change.
“Darnell, who can play left or right-back, has gone to left-back. He’s done that job previously in games. Greg has come in and he’s a massive threat.”
Ball revealed Stubbs had told his side to go at Newcastle, who were in the Premier League last season and spent more than £50 million on summer recruitment, from the first whistle.
“He said we had to rattle them and get in their faces,” the 21-year-old said.
“He said: ‘Go out there and rattle them and they won’t like it.’ And I don’t think they did.”