CONOR RETURNS TO HAUNT MICK
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.”
TIMELY FINISH: Rotherham’s Matt Derbyshire scores his side’s first goal
HUG ME: Conor Sammon celebrates scoring