LOAN DUO GET EVANS BEAMING
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.”
STAR MAN JOE NEWEL