Rotherham United: How goal hero Towell almost didn’t join the Millers

Richie Towell, centre, celebrates his late winner
Richie Towell, centre, celebrates his late winner

Rotherham United match-winner Richie Towell was on the motorway heading for another club until the Millers hijacked his deadline-day move at the last minute.

The substitute midfielder scored in the 89th minute on his AESSEAL New York Stadium debut on Saturday to seal a 3-2 League One victory over Bury.

But the 26-year-old could have been playing for a different side after deciding to leave parent club Brighton on loan as the summer transfer window was closing on August 31.

“I was actually on my way to do a medical somewhere,” he said. “I got a phone call to say Rotherham were interested and I just turned back around and came here. I spoke to the gaffer as I was a driving back and there was only one place I wanted to be after that.”

Several teams, including one from the Championship, were chasing the Seagulls man before Rotherham swooped two hours before the 11pm deadline.

“My agent just rang me and said: ‘Look, Rotherham are coming in now. What do you think?’” he revealed. “It was late. I signed maybe at 10pm. It was about nine o’clock when I got the call.

Two-goal Kieffer Moore

Two-goal Kieffer Moore

“To be fair, the gaffer (Paul Warne) wanted to sign me in the January window, so I knew he had always rated me as a player. I know Richie (No 2 Barker) tried to sign me before as well when he was at another club.”

Towell is hoping his goal will earn him a starting role in the home clash with Walsall tomorrow when the Millers will be gunning for a third successive league triumph.

“I’m 100 per cent ready to start,” he said. “I was ready to start against Bury! I spoke to the gaffer during the week and told him I was ready. At Brighton, I was the fittest there. I feel really good and confident. I look after myself.

“The gaffer said it wasn’t going to be easy for me to just walk into the team, and I understand that. I’m not afraid of hard work. It’s in my DNA.

“The gaffer’s a lot different to other managers I’ve had and, to be honest, I’m loving it. I’m only in the door, I know, but we’ve had two good wins out of two and there’s a feel-good factor around the place.

“If we continue to play as we did today, I think we’ll do well. All the lads want to win for the gaffer because he’s so honest and everyone is pulling in the same direction.”

Towell and two-goal Kieffer Moore earned the plaudits in the success over Bury, but boss Warne was quick to highlight the contribution of holding midfielder Darren Potter.

“I thought Potter was excellent in controlling it,” the manager said. “I have enjoyed playing in front of this crowd but, as I told the lads, they want you to go forward all of the time.

Darren Potter

Darren Potter

“However, sometimes the forward pass isn’t on and you must have a little bit more guile. Potts brings that in the middle of the park. He calms down the heads and allows us to control the tempo of the game.

“A lot of people might leave here and wax lyrical about the goalscorers, but I think you have to look deeper.”

Warne, refusing to get carried away by back-to-back wins, said he had no qualms about dropping goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell and handing loanee Marek Rodak an instant debut after his arrival from Fulham.

“It wasn’t really a big call,” he said. “I signed him with a view to playing him. Richie had done okay for me, but I always think I should pick the best 11 players in my opinion for every game.

“I don’t want to get too gung-ho about two wins. We have won both those games by only one goal, so we are not exactly all guns blazing. But it does mean a lot and gives the lads a massive boost.”

Bury boss Lee Clark was sent off at half-time for behaving in an aggressive manner towards the match officials, while words were exchanged at the final whistle between the rival benches. Warne missed the latter incident because he was out on the pitch congratulating his players and saluting home fans.

“I just shook everyone’s hand,” he said. “I’d love to say something controversial, but I didn’t see anything. I was well happy. I am not really bothered. It makes no difference to me if he is sent to the stands.

“Their manager said in the tunnel ‘well done, Paul’ and I said ‘I will see you in ten’. There’s no drama.”

Right-back Shaun Cummings is a fitness concern ahead of the Walsall match after coming off against the Shakers with a tight hamstring.

Match verdict and the views of Warne and Towell