Rumbled by Rotherham - Rotherham 2 Southampton 1

Last updated : 17 January 2002 By Christian Kelly
Saints defeat against Rotherham in the 3rd round of the FA Cup will have come as a shock to many, who have seen them turn in some impressive perfomacnce in the league. However, Nationwide football is not to be underestimated and Rotherham's excellent recent home record should have given some pause to anyone getting too carried away.

Rotherham boss Ronnie Moore indicated his side's lack of fear before the match  "We want to play one of the REAL big boys. Its great to get a Premiership team at home but with respect, Southampton are one of the smaller big boys"

"This fixture will do me, but we've got a chance to progress and hopefully earn ourselves a game against one of the bigger boys later on"

Unfortunately Saints didn't get any inspiration from Moore's taunt.

Gordon Strachan wasn't going into this fixture lightly either, saying ''This is a tough one for us. People say to me about playing against Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and the like but Rotherham is just as difficult in its way. Look what Tranmere did to Southampton last season.'' Fans and players would do well to remember that match before thinking they can simply turn up and win a match.

Saints defence were poor to concede Rotherham's two goals and they clearly weren't up to the task. Complacency set into the Saints before this tie and hopefully the shock of an exit will prevent repeat occurences in the league.

Richard Barker was gifted a free header in the 38th minute from a Rotherham free kick and John Mullin caught everyone standing for Rotherham's second after 55 minutes. Saints defence were left standing from a simple ball over the top and Mullin drove it past Jones. Rotherham had placed Southampton under early pressure but the Premiership outfit seemed to be coming to terms with the match before Rotherham's opener. Saints had an attacking spell for quarter of an hour in the second half but simple couldn't take what chances they had to pull the game back.

Up front Saints were lacklustre. Delgado made a few errors and the team simply didn't look an effective force without the presence of Beattie.

Saints manager to get a goal back on 70 minutes after Kevin Davies was fouled in the box. Marian Pahars converted the spot kick, but Saints couldn't find the equaliser despite Delgado's best efforts.

Strachan's response was surprisingly mellow considering the limelight such an exit usually brings. He said, 

"I'm happy with the way we played for most of the game and I'd be amazed if there's another game this season where we create as many chances.

"We had plenty of chances at 1-0 and I couldn't really ask for much more - sometimes you've just got to accept that it's just not your night.

"Rotherham defended sometimes frantically and sometimes excellently.

"Normally, when a team gets knocked out of the cup by a lower team, the manager will have a complaint or a moan - he will be raging at the players.

"I think we made two personal mistakes, which caused us a problem, and we will talk about that indoors - we don't crucify the players. It can happen.

"But, as a unit, considering we played Liverpool last week and Manchester United on Sunday, I thought they did very, very well."

"We weren't unlucky, we just didn't have the ability to finish, which is a different thing.

"Unlucky is when the ball bobbles in front of goal. This was down to our inability to score goals.

"I've got to look at the amount of chances we had and say we've got to take more than that.

"It was our fault we lost, I'm not blaming anyone else. It is too easy these days to dismiss it and blame everyone else. We understand whose fault it was."

Rotherham's Ronnie Moore was delighted with the win saying:  "Those last 20 minutes lasted a lifetime. They aged me - I feel about 64 at the moment!

"It was one hell of a game, a tremendous cup tie, and we were left hanging on a bit at the end but they are a good Premiership side.

"They put us on the backfoot. I thought we defended a little bit too deep late on. But we showed great determination.

"It's great for a football club of our size to play against Southampton and it would have been a real gutter for us if they'd equalised late on - even though a draw against them would have been a good result."
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