‘VINTAGE’ TOM ENDS DRY SPELL
AFTER notching just a solitary goal in their last seven outings Rotherham’s scoring form has been anything but vintage in recent weeks, so it’s no surprise boss Steve Evans likened Tom Lawrence’s opener in this game to a lovely bottle of red.
The Welsh striker pounced five minutes before the break to give the Millers the lead, with Alex Revell’s header on 65 minutes ensuring a first win in the league since mid-October, despite Ben Watson’s leveller just a minute earlier.
And the relief for Evans was palpable, with the Rotherham boss singling out the 20-year-old for special praise.
“Against Forest and against Cardiff, I said Tom Lawrence was like a lighthouse in a dark ocean, and when he scores a goal and works as hard as that, he’s not just a lighthouse but you know there’s a bottle of red wine waiting for you when you get there,” said Evans.
“He’s a special talent, but you need to get him on the ball. If we had gone and got the third out there we’d have gone and scored a lot more.
“We dominated for long spells and if it’s based on chances, Wigan could have scored a couple out there, but if it’s based on good chances, we could have scored five or six.
“Credit to my players, they’re very young in the main. We give them the freedom to express themselves, and they’ve done that for three weeks. In the last few minutes, thankfully, a few of my experienced lads who were in League Two with us headed a few balls clear at the end.”
With a winless run also dating back to October, Wigan almost opened the scoring after nine minutes when Callum McManaman’s mazy run ended in an Adam Collin save.
Wigan’s best chance fell to Watson from Shaun Maloney’s corner, but he blazed the ball well wide from 12 yards with 22 minutes gone.
Rotherham came into the game and Emmanuel Ledesma slipped in Lawrence ten minutes before the break, but James Perch recov- ered brilliantly to ensure the scores remained level.
A dreadful error from Andrew Taylor then gifted Rotherham the lead, his poor back pass allowing Lawrence to slot home Rotherham’s first goal in 232 minutes.
Having been booed off at halftime, the Latics required a response, and introduced MarcAntoine Fortune as a second striker.
It came in the 63rd minute, Watson rising to meet James McClean’s corner and bring the home side undeservedly level.
They were so for only a minute, as Revell produced an athletic header which looped in at the far post after Ledesma’s floated freekick.
Wigan had more of the ball as Rotherham looked to end their four-month run without an away win, but were still vulnerable on the break, Jordan Bowery and Revell both spurning chances.
The Latics might have equalised with ten minutes left when a smart Oriol Riera touch found Fortune, but he turned and blazed over the bar.
With one minute of normal time remaining, another excellent McManaman cross found Riera, whose header crashed against the crossbar with Collin beaten.
“When you concede goals like that first one, and don’t take chances like Marc-Antoine Fortune had at the end and Riera hitting the bar, then that is where we are at the moment,” conceded Latics boss Malky Mackay.
“We’re creating chances, but we’re not taking chances, and we’re giving away even less than soft goals. Rotherham were gifted a goal , and that’s something that at this level you can’t do.
“We knew they were going to be hardworking. Physically we matched them, but you have to be clinical at the other end.”
HEAD BOY: Scott Carson looks on as Alex Revell’s winning goal hits the back of the net
OPENER: Tom Lawrence scores for Rotherham
STAR MAN TOM LAWRE