The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By John Brind­ley

MICK McCarthy was bear­ing no grudges af­ter a familiar face ru­ined his 56th birth­day and dealt a big blow to Ip­swich’s au­to­matic pro­mo­tion hopes.

Ir­ish striker Conor Sammon, who failed to im­press on loan at Port­man Road ear­lier this sea­son, swept home from ten yards to take the points out of McCarthy’s reach af­ter fel­low striker Matt Der­byshire gave the Millers an in­ter­val lead.

“It was sod’s law, Mur­phy’s law, per­haps,” joked McCarthy. “Conor played well and good luck to him – he’s a great guy. His goal came just af­ter our best spell of the game.

“We looked okay for the first 15 min­utes and I couldn’t see that com­ing – but Rother­ham played well.

“Our mark­ing was very poor for the first half and if we are go­ing to de­fend like that, it’s go­ing to cost us. It’s un­like us to con­cede goals from set plays.

“I knew we would have a dip at some point but I will try to freshen it up with the play­ers I’ve got.

“We will be scrap­ping un­til the last game to main­tain our pro­mo­tion push.”

This was a tale of two sets of strik­ers as Ip­swich fluffed their lines, whilst Millers gob­bled up their first two real chances.

The Trac­tor men could have been in front in­side 18 sec­onds when Adam Collin made a vi­tal one-on-one from Daryl Mur­phy fol­low­ing a Luke Cham­bers pass.

Mur­phy was to have three more rea­son­able sights of goal.

He leant back to fire over the bar from Jay Tabb’s cor­ner in the ninth minute, saw vig­i­lant left back Zeki Fry­ers coolly nod his pow­er­ful header off the line and scuffed an­other dis­ap­point­ing close-range shot – the other two chances com­ing in a dom­i­nant Ip­swich spell just af­ter the break

In con­trast, Rother­ham’s worldly part­ner­ship of Der­byshire and Sammon barely got a kick be­tween them be­fore both tak­ing their close-range chances to ease the home side’s rel­e­ga­tion fears.

McCarthy must be con­cerned at his side’s lack of cre­ativ­ity in mid­field as they are slip­ping away from the top two. How­ever, well-or­gan­ised Millers look well up to the task of stay­ing out­side of the bot­tom three with­out play­ing the flow­ing foot­ball manager Steve Evans promised around Christ­mas.

They de­fended stoutly and had the game’s best player in Ben Pringle, who was in­volved in both goals and put over some out­stand­ing sec­ond-half crosses.

Ip­swich al­lowed Millers the luxury of three un­chal­lenged head­ers as they fell be­hind af­ter 38 min­utes fol­low­ing Pringle’s lofted free-kick. Conor New­ton flicked on, Craig Mor­gan nod­ded care­fully back across goal and Der­byshire stooped to con­quer from in­side the six-yard box.

And Sammon made the game safe when he snaf­fled the sec­ond with Ip­swich floun­der­ing to clear Pringle’s left wing cor­ner.

Evans said: “It was a won­der­ful per­for­mance by us. We were good on the ball against a side full of out­stand­ing play­ers.

“We’ve worked hard on our set plays both for and against, so to score twice is par­tic­u­larly pleas­ing,

“I told the Matt Der­byshire I was go­ing to play him and he de­serves the plau­dits here.

“But for a per­fectly good goal dis­al­lowed at Charl­ton last week, he’d have three goals in three games.

“Conor Sammon does a lot of things in the game in terms of ef­fort and de­ter­mi­na­tion.

“De­fend­ers know they are go­ing to be in a game against those two.

“We have got to stay in the Cham­pi­onship – too many teams, in­clud­ing my home club Peter­bor­ough, have been up there for one sea­son.

“I’m grate­ful for the fans’ fan­tas­tic sup­port and no one will work harder than me.”

PIC­TURES: Pin­na­cle

TIMELY FIN­ISH: Rother­ham’s Matt Der­byshire scores his side’s first goal

HUG ME: Conor Sammon cel­e­brates scor­ing

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