Rotherham United: Stunning strike could be just the start for Millers striker Matt Derbyshire

Matt Derbyshire's long-awaited goal
Matt Derbyshire's long-awaited goal

Like most good things, it was well worth waiting for.

Matt Derbyshire’s first goal in open play for Rotherham United had been 17 games in the making.

And when it finally came it nearly lifted the roof off AESSEAL New York Stadium.

The striker broke forward against Bolton Wanderers on Tuesday night, calmly assessed his options and then crashed an unstoppable 20-yard shot with his ‘wrong’ left foot past Andy Lonergan in the Trotters’ goal.

“I am so pleased for him,” said manager Steve Evans as he assessed the 4-2 victory which saw the Millers climb five points clear of the Championship drop zone. “He has been exceptional in training and deserved to start.”

Evans, who normally informs his players of the starting line-up only an hour before kick-off, broke with tradition in the case of the forward whose only previous Rotherham goal had been a penalty against Fleetwood back in August in the Capital One Cup.

“He was the only player who knew the night before he was playing,” the Millers boss revealed. “I phoned him to tell him.”

The stunning strike brought joy and relief in equal measure for the New York Stadium faithful who chanted “Super Matt” and gave Derbyshire a standing ovation when he was substituted late on.

The goal and the confidence boost it will give the 28-year-old frontman might just ease the need for Evans to sign a proven scorer.

Often through his illustrious career Derbyshire’s goals have come in spurts and who’s to say he won’t go on a prolific little run now?

He ran the Brentford defence ragged two and a half weeks ago and his partnership with new boy Conor Sammon - another scorer on a memorable night - was too much for Bolton to handle.

“I thought the front two were exceptional,” said Evans.

Sammon, who impressed in only his second game for the Millers, said of his strike partner’s effort: “It was an absolutely cracking goal.

“We struck up a good understanding and I think we can play well together. Matt’s got good experience, and both of us like to run in from behind. We’re judged on goals and I hope we can be a big goal threat.

“Bolton don’t concede many goals, but I thought Matt and I were a handful for them. You want your strikers on the scoresheet.”

Bolton manager Neil Lennon, who had kicked a water bottle in anger during the match, was gracious enough afterwards to admit Rotherham had deserved their victory.

It was the first time this season the Millers have scored four goals in a game.

Not only did the win give their hopes of Championship football next season a huge boost, it was also a matter of personal pride for ardent Celtic fan Evans.

Lennon was once manager of the Glasgow giants and is revered by the Rotherham boss.

“Neil Lennon is God to Steve Evans,” said Sammon.

“If he’s just beaten God, what should we be calling him?”