Rotherham United rewarded for fearless approach to Norwich City test with first Championship win of the season

Rotherham United defeated Norwich City. Image: Robbie Stephenson/PA Wire
Rotherham United defeated Norwich City. Image: Robbie Stephenson/PA Wire

The Canaries are savvy operators at second tier level, with last season a blot on a stunning record.

Rotherham, on the other hand, have struggled to make the Championship home in recent years.

However, it was the previously winless who shook themselves free of their tag in a game that was not drab or one-sided.

Matchwinner: Rotherham United's Jordan Hugill celebrates scoring what would prove to be the winning goal against his former club Norwich City as Ollie Rathbone, left, joins the celebrations. (Picture: PA)
Matchwinner: Rotherham United's Jordan Hugill celebrates scoring what would prove to be the winning goal against his former club Norwich City as Ollie Rathbone, left, joins the celebrations. (Picture: PA)

Rotherham ended Norwich’s unbeaten league run, with goals from Dexter Lembikisa and Jordan Hugill helping to secure a 2-1 win.

Millers fans will be hoping the win and improved performance are signs of things to come, while manager Matt Taylor believes the result was the shot in the arm his squad needed.

He said: “We improved again, got the goals, which always makes it a better performance, because when you’re playing well you need something to show for it. Against a top quality team, [we] put them under pressure.

"As the game progresses, you know there’s always going to be a reaction, a sting in the tail. I was pleased, not that they scored when they did, but [that] it gave us time to settle, time to address a few things. From that point on, we weren’t comfortable by any means but we saw out the game.

"As much as the outside world will always judge you in these fixtures against big clubs at the level which they are, the players have to keep believing.

"Even when the opposition score, get back in the game or go ahead, we’re good enough to compete, and good enough to get something out of these games.

"That’s the shot in the arm they needed, that I’ve been trying to put in with words, but nothing speaks louder than three points."

It was clear from the beginning Rotherham were playing to win, as Taylor’s men adopted an aggressive front-foot approach against their heavily fancied opponents.

It was the Millers who broke the deadlock, a just reward for their fearlessness.

The ball fell kindly on the edge of the box for Lembikisa, who unleashed a powerful drive that rendered Angus Gunn helpless.

Norwich attempted to rally as the first-half progressed but lacked cutting edge, as Ashley Barnes and Adam Idah shots were kept out relatively comfortably.

Rotherham, on the other hand, showed a clinical edge in the final third.

Hugill, formerly of the Canaries, latched on to a Cafu cross before steering a header home to double the lead.

Norwich flew out of the traps in the second-half, reducing the deficit just six minutes after the restart.

Jonathan Rowe danced through defenders before finding Christian Fassnacht, who stabbed home.

Momentum was then firmly behind the Canaries, although their desire to attack in numbers left them looking vulnerable on the counter-attack.

Adam Idah twisted and turned his way into space inside the box, but his drilled effort was held by Viktor Johansson.

A wicked deflection on a Jack Stacey effort came close to wrong-footing Rotherham’s goalkeeper, but he displayed impressive reflexes to react.

As Norwich piled bodies forward, gaps opened up and one particular Millers attack looked promising until it was halted by indecision from Hugill.

Rotherham found themselves pinned back in the latter stages but survived the Norwich rally, sending their fans home having seen a league win for the first time this term.

It was the first time Rotherham had taken to the pitch since the closure of the summer transfer window.

Deadline day was fairly quiet for the Millers, certainly when compared to activity elsewhere,

The only late addition was young defender Sebastian Revan, who joined on loan from Aston Villa.

His arrival followed the signing of Sam Nombe from Exeter City.

The forward was introduced for his Millers debut in the second-half and worked tirelessly to no avail, struggling to impose himself on a game the visitors were taking control of.

Speaking after the match, Taylor insisted the the club are not yet done with the transfer market.

He said: “I will always want more in a window. We’re now going to target a couple of free agents because I still want definitely one more in, in the next week or so. As much as it’s closed, I’m still looking to do a bit of business.

"We want to keep improving the central position of the defence, and another attacking-type midfield player who can play off either side or a slightly higher layer. More options, I’m so comfortable with so many different areas of this squad right now, I just think we can get more.”

Rotherham United: Johansson, Lembikisa, Humphreys, Blackett, Bramall; Rathbone, Tiehi, Cafu; Green (Nombe 63), Onyedinma, Hugill (Eaves 83).

Unused substitutes: Phillips, Morrison, Bola, Douglas, McGuckin, Appiah, Nombe, Eaves.

Norwich City: Gunn, Stacey, Duffy, Gibson, Giannoulis (McCallum 77); Sara, McLean (Springett 77); Fassnacht, Barnes, Rowe (Placheta 64); Idah (Gibbs 77).

Unused substitutes: Long, McCracken, Warner, Fisher, Nunez.

Referee: Samuel Barrott (Yorkshire)