The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By John Brind­ley

ROTHER­HAM man­ager Neil Red­fearn warned that his side face a “scrap to the very end of the sea­son” to stay up af­ter fel­low strug­glers Charl­ton closed the gap to a sin­gle point with their first win in 12 games.

For­wards Si­mon Makienok and Igor Ve­tokele grabbed the head­lines with three goals be­tween them, with the Millers fin­ish­ing a well-beaten side af­ter sub­sti­tute Jon­son Clarke-Har­ris fluffed a se­cond-half penalty

“We were a lit­tle bit ner­vous and ten­ta­tive in this game at the start which was sur­pris­ing as we’ve been do­ing well at home,” said Red­fearn.

“It was a poor per­for­mance from us but Charl­ton played well and looked dan­ger­ous when they broke, par­tic­u­larly Ve­tokele.

“I’m not go­ing to be too crit­i­cal of my play­ers be­cause they have had a right go in the last six or seven weeks and picked up some re­sults.

“We can’t af­ford to dwell on this be­cause we know we will have to scrap to the very end of the sea­son – that’s for cer­tain.”

Charl­ton were the more mea­sured and flu­ent of the two sides and had two con­trast­ing but equally ef­fec­tive strik­ers in Makienok and Ve­tokele.

Makienok sup­plied the height and phys­i­cal strength to test a cum­ber­some home back four while Ve­tokele took the eye with his clever turns and artistry.

On this ev­i­dence, there’s plenty of hope that Charl­ton man­ager Jose Riga can help his side to beat the drop to League One, but the prob­lems pile up for Red­fearn.

Al­ready busy in the trans­fer win­dow, he will have been pleased to see Chris Burke, on loan from For­est, net on his home de­but but puz­zlingly brought the winger off shortly af­ter fel­low new­comer Luciano Bec­chio came off the bench.

There was a fran­tic, al­most naïve, feel to their at­tempts to res­cue some­thing in the se­cond half, high­lighted by the mixed for­tunes of sub­sti­tute ClarkeHar­ris.

Af­ter win­ning a spot-kick that could have put his side back in the hunt at 3-2, the striker care­lessly blazed his penalty yards over the bar into Charl­ton hordes en­joy­ing a rare good day on their trav­els.

To his credit, Clarke-Har­ris was nar­rowly off tar­get with two other ef­forts – as well as see­ing a third blocked – but a lack of com­po­sure at both ends cost his side dearly.

Makienok net­ted pre­cisely from just out­side the box af­ter four min­utes from Zakarya Bergdich’s in­tel­li­gent squared pass be­fore loose de­fend­ing at the other end al­lowed Burke to steer in hav­ing been re­leased by Danny Ward.

The goal Ve­tokele had been threat­en­ing came in the 44th minute with a far-post tap-in af­ter Jo­hann Berg Gud­munds­son surged down the right, and the Ice­lander was also in­volved in the de­ci­sive third when Makienok headed in his cor­ner.

The spot-kick let-off fur­ther in­flamed the an­gry home fans, and many had left in droves be­fore sub­sti­tute Ade­mola Look­man slid in a fourth.

“Ev­ery­one has done their job – the goal­keeper, de­fence, mid­field and the strik­ers,” said Riga.

“We had a plan out there and it worked well. It’s the se­cond time we have taken the lead – then con­ceded – but this time we kicked on.

“It’s a good win be­cause it’s in di­rect op­po­si­tion to an­other team fight­ing rel­e­ga­tion, but it’s still three points.

“I wanted us not to de­fend but to show our qual­ity and we had the game un­der con­trol.

“We have been wait­ing for this kind of re­sult but there’s still a long way for us to go.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

BLOND AM­BI­TION: Si­mon Makienok cel­e­brates af­ter scor­ing Charl­ton’s first goal and in­set, Jon­son ClarkeHar­ris misses a penalty for Rother­ham

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