The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By James Owens

ROTHER­HAM boss Steve Evans paid trib­ute to Vadis Od­jidja-Ofoe and Tony An­dreu as the on-loan Nor­wich duo helped the Millers to an im­pres­sive win at Birm­ing­ham.

Goals in ei­ther half from for­mer Blues striker Matt Der­byshire and and An­dreu saw Rother­ham climb out of the bot­tom three, pick­ing up their first away win since March – and their first at St An­drew’s since 1966.

It also meant Evans’ side have back-to-back league wins since their pro­mo­tion from League One two sea­sons ago.

“Ev­ery­one knows it’s fine lines in the Cham­pi­onship,” Evans said.

“But it was about us to­day.The tone was set af­ter 20 sec­onds with a shot, a cor­ner and a sec­ond shot. We con­trolled the game from start to fin­ish.

“I think the two boys from Nor­wich help us enor­mously. I’ve got a very close per­sonal friend­ship with Alex Neil at Nor­wich, so I think that helped, or they may have been some­where else.

“They’ve fit­ted into the dress­ing room re­ally well, there’s good ban­ter and spirit amongst them ev­ery day, and they’re just start­ing to set­tle in.”

Evans also hit back at Adam Virgo, af­ter the for­mer Brighton de­fender sug­gested last week that he should leave the club.

“Too many peo­ple wrote us off af­ter a bad start,” added Evans.

“I pick up The Football League Pa­per last week and see Adam Virgo, who watched us once, say I should leave, and we should get rel­e­gated. It’s quite dis­ap­point­ing to read from some­body who has never man­aged a team in his life.

“But we’re go­ing to get that, we’re a small team in the league, we un­der­stand that.”

De­spite an im­pres­sive home record since the ar­rival of Gary Rowett last Oc­to­ber, Birm­ing­ham strug­gled to get go­ing, with To­masz Kuszczak tested in­side 20 sec­onds as An­dreu and Od­jidja-Ofoe both tried their luck from the edge of the area.

And Evans’ side took a de­served lead shortly af­ter the half-hour, when Joe Newell struck a fab­u­lous di­ag­o­nal ball from the left to find Der­byshire, who volleyed past Kuszczak.

De­marai Gray missed a fine op­por­tu­nity to level five min­utes be­fore the in­ter­val, blaz­ing over the bar af­ter be­ing found in space by David Cot­ter­ill. Rother­ham then found them­selves penned in­side their own half in the early stages af­ter the break, but the hosts strug­gled to turn pres­sure into clear open­ings, and spa­ces started to ap­pear for the visi­tors on the break.

But it was a gift from Birm­ing­ham’s Stephen Glee­son which saw them dou­ble their lead.

The Blues midfielder was caught in pos­ses­sion in­side his own box, and paid the price as An­dreu pounced, slot­ting into the bot­tom right-hand cor­ner to score his first goal for the Millers.

Sub­sti­tute An­drew Shin­nie came close to de­liv­er­ing an im­me­di­ate re­sponse for the Blues, but saw his curl­ing ef­fort from in­side the box de­flected wide.

And the home side con­tin­ued to look laboured in the fi­nal third, as Blues boss Rowett agreed the pat­tern was set in the early stages, and felt his side looked tired af­ter their run of five games in 15 days. “I felt we were flat af­ter about one or two min­utes,” Rowett ad­mit­ted.

“You could see straight away that we didn’t get our de­fen­sive shape quick enough, and we didn’t move up the pitch quick enough.

“Whether that’s the size of our squad and the amount of games we’ve had – we’ve had a run where we’re go­ing to have to play seven games in 21 days over­all, which is a hellish sched­ule for any­one to play, let alone with a small squad. “But again, we can’t use that as an ex­cuse. Maybe we’ve got to work a lit­tle bit harder.”


L Rotherh


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