Rotherham United: A New York night of magic ... Millers 2 Bradford City 0
Derby glory, nine games unbeaten, scorers in 22 consecutive matches, into the play-off places, supporters rising as one in salute of a stunning victory.
Rotherham United manager Paul Warne had spoken of how magic is often in the air at midweek matches at AESSEAL New York Stadium on the eve of the Yorkshire clash with Bradford City.
And the scintillating Millers duly waved their wand by overwhelming a talented Bradford City side on their way to a win which confirmed them as genuine top-six contenders.
A first-half goal from January signing Michael Smith, making his first start for the club proved to be the difference between two good teams in the first half.
The relentless Millers brought Bradford to their knees after the break and Joe Newell’s 57th-minute goal was the least they deserved for their complete domination.
As far as nights under the lights go, this really was magical. Rotherham blew on Bradford and the Bantams disappeared. Two goals could easily have been five.
“I thought, second half, we were really good and I think we deserved the win,” said manager Paul Warne. “We were a threat and I thought we could have got more goals.
“I am not overly giddy about our play-off prospects. There are still 17 games to go. The lads are in fine fettle, but there are some real tests ahead.
“It’s great to win back-to-back games but it wasn’t long ago that we couldn’t win a game, so I know how quickly football can change.”
The Bantams arrived with the second best away record in League One. But for the second time in four days, Rotherham were simply too much for a team starting the game above them in the table.
Smith, after his two weak headed efforts, sprang to life in the 22nd minute, timing his leap perfectly to send his header sailing past Sattelmaier and give the home side the lead from Anthony Forde’s deadly set-piece delivery which set up the goal.
The second half began with Rotherham old boy Paul Taylor shooting from a tight angle and Rodak saving, and the Rotherham keeper had to be sharp to beat out a swerving 50th-minute shot from the same player.
But it was the Millers, chasing, harrying, driving at the Bantams at every opportunity, who took control of the contest by going 2-0 in front in the 57th minute.
Richie Towell crossed from the left, Smith’s header was pushed out by Sattelmaier on the line and Joe Newell gleefully shot home on the turn from seven yards to turn up the New York decibel levels to deafening.
The goal was Newell’s first major contribution. Suddenly, he was everywhere, weaving his alchemy, curling a decent effort wide and then seeing his shot kept out by the feet of Sattelmaier.
Will Vaulks and then Jonson Clarke-Harris almost gave the scoreline the gloss it deserved in time added on, but Vaulks’ piledriver fizzed just over the bar and Clarke-Harris shot straight at the keeper when he was clean through.
“Potentially we can win a lot more games to get us in a good position at the end of the season,” Warne said. “I am pleased with where we are but I am not getting carried away.
“The players are well aware that potentially they could be a really good team.”
The Millers boss almost became embroiled in an altercation with a Bradford player towards the end.
“Knock him out,” chanted the crowd, after being introduced to boxing duo Kell Brook and Johnny Nelson at the interval.
Warne’s warriors had already done it for him. So much more up for the fight than their opponents.
Rotherham United (4-4-2): Rodak; Emmanuel, Ajayi, Wood, Mattock; Forde, Towell, Vaulks, Newell (Taylor 82); Ball (Yates 66), Smith (Clarke-Harris 79). Subs not used: Price, Cummings, Ihiekwe, Williams.
Bradford City (4-4-2): Sattelmaier; Guy, Kilgallon, Knight-Percival, Robinson; Vincelot (Gilliead 62), Dieng, Reeves (McCartan H-T), Law; Taylor (Poleon 71), Wyke. Subs not used: Raeder, Thompson, Chicksen, Devine.
Goals: Smith 22, Newell 57 (Rotherham).
Referee: Darren Drysdale (Lincolnshire).
Attendance: 8,904 (1,586).