Match Review: Rotherham 2-2 Stoke
Bojan’s late header rescues Stoke from defeat in a game that should have been over before the 2nd half begun. Stoke to a man were excellent for the majority of the game but once again fell to their individual errors which ultimately cost them 3 points. Rotherham’s home form continues to impress thus far this season with all their points this season won at the New York Stadium.
Stoke who made 7 changes from their loss to Forest midweek were dominant in the first half, enjoying long periods of possession and creating plenty of oppourtunities. It was a busy half for Marek Rodak and the Rotherham defence. Benik Afobe and Semi Ajayi had a hell of a battle all evening, with the Rotherham defender coming out on top more often than not, he was a deserved man of the match and is exactly what Stoke could do with in the heart of defence based on this performance.
Stoke’s Benik Afobe smashed the bar from a deep Erik Pieters cross in what was the best chance of the first half. Stoke were not troubled other than a Manning attempt that hit the side netting after Jack Butland failed to find a man with a careless throw. Stoke’s midfield ran the first 45 minutes accumalting over 70% possession, Ryan Woods and Joe Allen seem to be building a good relationship and understanding on the pitch.
Stoke found themselves having to come from behind for the 3rd time in 7 days but were able to get a somewhat positive result this time round thanks to fan favourite Bojan’s 85th minute equaliser. Stoke will feel they should have got the 3 points but failed to capatalise on many chances created in the first half. It’s the story often this season for Stoke that you will be punished in this league for failing to take your chances and you cannot switch off for 5 minute periods. This was the problem again where Stoke had a poor 5 minute period at the beginning of the second half and once again found themselves playing catch up.
Ashley Williams brought down namesake Ryan in the 1st minute of the 2nd half, it was a soft penalty to concede. Manning’s penalty was dispatched with no trouble as he easily beat Butland. Stoke fell victims again just minutes later as poor marking on a corner resulted in the 2nd goal, Williams loses Wood in the box who heads the ball towards goal rebounding off his arm and Towell couldn’t miss from a yard away.
Stoke heads dropped for a short period after both goals but resolve was found as Tom Ince cooly tucked away an Erik Pieters ball in what was a brilliant Stoke move. Allen and Pieters linked well most the evening, Allen’s through ball found Pieters who put the chance on a plate with a low cross for the arriving Tom Ince. Stoke continued to pile the pressure on and minutes later had hit the bar again, this time Joe Allen on the volley after Martina’s high ball proved difficult for Rotherham to clear.
Stoke continued to apply the pressure but the intensity of their play did drop towards the final quarter of the match however their resilience was too much for Rotherham and Bojan scored a delightful header from Afobe’s cross to sercure a point. Stoke will feel they should have come away with 3 points based on their performance but will be grateful their spanish magician saved the day.
Personally I thought Stoke’s performance was solid, defensively a lot more sound than in previous fixtures. A lot more positives than negatives to take from this game despite not getting the result we may have deserved. Despite Rotherham failing to hold on to their lead, Wardle would be the happier of the managers as Stoke really should have had this game to bed in the first half. Gary Rowett’s men will have to have more of a killer instinct the rest of the season, the punishment in the championship is cruel and no matter the players on the pitch anyone can beat anyone in this league.
Rotherham – Rodak (7), Jones (6), Wood (7), Ajayi (9), Mattock (6), Vaulks (6), Williams (7), Manning (7), Towell (6), Smith (6)
Butland (6) – Had little to do, almost gifted a goal in first half
Cuco (6) Worked well on the overlap
Martins-Indi (6) Looked assured next to Williams, made a individual error in first half also but got away with it.
Williams (5) silly foul for the penalty and should be doing better marking for the 2nd, cost us today.
Pieters (7) constant threat all day going forward.
Ince (7) Always an option, took his goal well
Woods (8) Looks head and shoulders above his team mates at times, another classy performance.
Allen (7) Much better from the welshman, starting to find his groove
Etebo (5) Seemed to drift out the game as it went on, quiet day
Berahino (6) worked hard all game, never gave up, looks a new player this season
Afobe (7) caused a nuisance all evening but lost the battle with Ajayi, good cross for Bojan’s goal.
Bojan (7) scored a brilliant header, should give him some confidence and the chance to break into the starting XI
(stat table taken from BBC Sport)
Stoke next face Bolton at the Bet365 on Tuesday where they will be hoping for another good performance but a better result. Bojan will be hoping he has made his way into Gary Rowett’s plans.
By Rob White
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