Rotherham United: MK better second time around for Millers saviour Warnock

Neil Warnock celebrates victory
Neil Warnock celebrates victory

Events at stadiummk as Rotherham United hammered MK Dons to almost guarantee their Championship survival were a far cry from manager Neil Warnock’s previous visit there.

The Millers are nine points clear of the relegation places with only five matches left to play after their 4-0 win pushed the Dons ever closer to the drop.

But the last time Warnock, who has led Rotherham to six wins and two draws in their last eight matches, was in charge of a match in Milton Keynes he was sacked the day after!

A 1-1 draw in the third round of the FA Cup in January 2012 brought about his exit from Queens Park Rangers.

Warnock took charge at AESSEAL New York Stadium in February and is loving life in South Yorkshire as the Millers, once six points off a safety spot, close in on safeguarding their place in the second tier.

“We have done well lately. We don’t concede a lot of goals,” Warnock said. “Kevin and Ronnie (coaches Blackwell and Jepson) have worked really hard on both the defensive side and the attacking, and the players listen to us.

Leon Best scores from the spot

Leon Best scores from the spot

“The lads know what we want. We might get beaten by a little bit of skill from the opposition at this level, but being well organised and knowing what we are doing has helped us. But we have got a bit of flair now and an ability to score goals, which is a good recipe.

“With five games to go, I am enjoying it.”

An away following of around 3,000 fans saw goals from Matt Derbyshire, Leon Best (penalty), Kirk Broadfoot and Richard Smallwood produce Rotherham’s biggest away victory for more than three years. The Millers last won 4-0 on the road on March 5 2013 in League Two at Oxford.

Nothing can be mathematically decided this weekend, when Nottingham Forest visit New York, but safety could possibly be confirmed a week tomorrow at home to Huddersfield.

Kirk Broadfoot

Kirk Broadfoot

“I am not really too bothered if we are safe or not. I am here only for the short term,” said Warnock, brought in on a 16-game mission to keep the Millers up when Neil Redfearn was sacked.

“I want to win every game. Forest is a massive game. I had a chance to go there last year in a similar capacity but, due to unforseen circumstances, it didn’t develop.

“They’re a massive club but I want to try and beat them. Then it’s Huddersfield, my old club, then Wolves and Blackburn before we go to Hull, so it’s a great run-in.

“I want the lads to enjoy it. They are. You can see that.”

Danny Ward

Danny Ward

Rotherham’s second strike, a 17th-minute penalty, killed the game, although Greg Halford and Leon Best argued over who should take it before Best stepped up.

Halford had been successful from the spot in the win over Leeds United a week earlier, but Warnock was happy to see someone else assume responsibility.

“I’m not a big fan of somebody taking two in a row,” he said. “ I wanted Frecks (Lee Frecklington to take it, I knew how important it was, the second goal.”

Frecklington limped off in the 40th minute after feeling an old calf injury, but the Millers are crossing their fingers the influential midfielder will recover quickly.

“He only stiffened up, he didn’t feel it go, so hopefully it’s not more than a couple of weeks,” Warnock said.

The Rotherham boss is looking no further than the end of the season, although he knows victories like this one in Buckinghamshire only add to the Millers clamour for him to stay on.

“Bit different to last time I was here,” he grinned.

Click here for Paul Davis’ match feature