Evans tells his players a few home truths
DEJECTED Rotherham boss Steve Evans took his defenders to task after his side succumbed to a home defeat at the hands of Fulham.
Both teams went into this game looking for their first victory of the Championship season, but the Millers soon found themselves with a mountain to climb, as the Cottagers took full advantage of their defensive horror show in the early stages.
Former Miller Ben Pringle put Fulham ahead just seven minutes into his first trip back to the New York Stadium, opening his account for the Londoners with a far-post tap in when Adam Collin could only parry Moussa Dembele’s header.
It was only a superb save from Collin that prevented Kit Symons’ visitors from leading 2-0 inside ten minutes; the Rotherham stopper using a leg to deny Fulham skipper Ross McCormack.
But McCormack was given the chance to make amends after a quarter of an hour, when James Husband drove past Lewis Buxton into the area, only to be scythed down by Greg Halford. The Scotland international made no mistake from the spot, driving his penalty past Collin to the goalkeeper’s left, and leaving Evans to count the cost.
Evans admitted: “Their first goal is a cross into our box. That will always happen, but for my two centre-backs to allow somebody in between them is shocking, and for my goalkeeper to parry it there is shocking. Then, for Lewis Buxton to switch off and watch Ben Pringle tap it in from a yard isn’t good defending.
“For the penalty, obviously everyone will rightly look at Greg Halford, because it’s a rash challenge, but Lewis lets their player come into the box.”
The hosts were offered a way back into the game nine minutes after half-time, when Jazz Richards brought Paul Green down in the area. Matt Derbyshire stepped up, but saw his penalty well saved by Andy Lonergan.
Rotherham did eventually pull one back with 18 minutes left, when Green harassed a clumsy Dan Burn off the ball and squared for Jonson Clarke-Harris, who bent a fine 20-yard effort into the bottom corner.
But the visitors restored their two-goal margin in stoppage time, when the excellent Jamie O’Hara centred for substitute Cauley Woodrow to sweep the ball home.
“I thought it was a poor performance from us, and we can’t say any different,” Evans admitted.
“There were quiet words afterwards. People got a few home truths, but in a quiet, orderly fashion. People know if you’re shouting and balling sometimes, it’s passion, and you get very serious. Then you calm it down and tell people very pertinently.”
“But we have to say we were well beaten by a good Fulham side, who played particularly well on the day,” the Millers boss added.
Fulham had failed to win in their opening four Championship matches, only managing draws with Cardiff City and Huddersfield Town.
Kit Symons admitted he was a nervous spectator on the touchline as the Cottagers defended their lead, but was relieved to see his side pick up the important win after a slow start to the campaign.
“We’ve played some quite good stuff, and maybe been a bit unfortunate, but also not helped ourselves in previous games, so we were sitting on only two points. So it was important that we put in a decent performance and got three points on the board,” Symons reflected. “We made it a little bit hard work for ourselves conceding a penalty, and giving away a stupid goal, but overall I’m very pleased with the performance.
“Until you get that third goal, it’s never quite comfortable. In football, the third goal in the game is always crucial.
“I was very pleased obviously when we scored our third late on. At 2-1, although we defended quite well, it just takes one thing to drop for someone, someone to lose their marker, and suddenly you come away with a point rather than the three, which was what we desperately needed.”
STAR MAN JAMIE O’HARA