Mousinho’s the special one

Midfielder on target as dominant Boro outplay high-flying Rotherham

MOUSINHO may be one letter away from greatness, but it turned out he was in fact the special one as Boro took a point from their trip to high-flying Rotherham on Saturday.

The midfielder’s goal in the 82nd minute may be written in history as one which rescued a point for Stevenage, but this was more of a smash and grab by the home team who were dealt a footballing lesson – particularly in the first half – by Graham Westley’s men.

Nicky Law gave Rotherham the lead in first half injury time to the delight of the screaming home crowd, but just minutes earlier those same fans were shouting ‘rubbish’ as they voiced their disapproval at what they were witnessing.

Stevenage began the match with Chris Holroyd as the only recognised striker, a sign of faith by Westley in the on-loan front man ahead of fellow strikers Charlie Griffin, Yemi Odubade and Peter Vincenti who all began the game on the bench.

Holroyd was supported by a midfield five, including Peter Winn on the left, while skipper Mark Roberts returned at centre back, and although those seeing the line-up may have settled on the idea that Boro had come for the draw the visitors were thinking of anything but.

Stacy Long had Boro’s best chance of the first half on 19 minutes after Michael Bostwick had already tested Andy Warrington and Kevin Ellison had hit a 20–yard shot which Chris Day palmed clear.

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Holroyd ran into the box on the right and as a centre back approached pulled the ball back to Long.

The midfielder, with most of the goal to aim at, hit the ball too close to Warrington and the ‘keeper saved with his legs.

Warrington, in inspired form all afternoon, did have one stinker. Bostwick again ventured forward and skipped past a challenge, dinked his shoulder to go past another defender and hit a low shot towards goal.

The keeper held the ball low down, but as his body hit the turf he spilled it and the ball rolled towards goal but he managed to spring upon it before it crossed the line.

Rotherham had looked susceptible at the back in their midweek defeat of Burton Albion, and they were constantly tested by one of the most creative Boro displays of the season so far.

Holroyd, holding off Nick Fenton, teed up Lawrie Wilson who crossed for Mousinho on 27 minutes only for the midfielder to head over, and then Long saw an effort headed clear by Exodus Geohaghon before Wilson crossed for Long to head wide from 16 yards.

By this time the natives were becoming increasingly restless and whistles and boos started to ring out.

Despite the distance from the main stand to the pitch – a running track separates the two – the displeasure of the crowd was clearly affecting the Millers who hit too many wayward passes which just made matters worse.

Wilson headed wide from Winn’s cross as Boro again attacked from the flanks, but despite their efforts at goal and corners – seven in the first half to Rotherham’s zero – Stevenage struggled to find a way past Warrington.

Matters worsened when the home side did what many in the game would describe as a ‘smash and grab’.

League 2’s top scorer this season Adam Le Fondre – who had until now been, and would continue to be, in Jon Ashton’s pocket – hit a free kick towards Law on the right.

Scott Laird, in attendance, slipped and Law ran with the ball towards goal and from 18 yards out hit a peach of a right footer into the top corner.

Stevenage could not believe it, and neither could the home side whose only previous sniff at goal had come 30 minutes before.

The second half was less of the same, but Rotherham did continue to struggle despite Day having to hold on to a deflected clearance early on which had hit Jason Taylor and rebounded towards goal.

Holroyd continued to be a threat up front and as he turned Fenton 35 yards from goal he was brought down by the defender who was booked.

It could have been worse as the striker was on his way towards goal and there is no doubt that he would not have been caught.

Warrington continued to play a key role for the Millers in the second half and pulled off his best save when he got down low to his left to push a Bostwick shot wide on the turn of the hour.

The ‘keeper then pushed Winn’s shot wide after Ashton had blocked another Law effort, and Winn also shot over on 70 minutes after flicking a header over his marker and running 40 yards towards goal with the ball.

The home side thought they had done it again when Fenton headed in at the far post following a corner.

As the stadium PA system kicked in with the Millers’ goalscoring song the referee pointed for a Boro free kick as it transpired Fenton had flattened Laird at the far post in his bid to reach the ball.

Just six minutes later and the referee did have to blow for a goal, but this time it was for the visitors.

Laird’s ball over the top to the far post was controlled by substitute David Bridges whose own shot was blocked before he pulled it back inside the box for Mousinho to shoot home from eight yards.

It was the least Boro deserved and after Le Fondre finally got a shot on target – an easy one for Day to hold – Boro thought they had pulled off a late win when substitute Yemi Odubade set up Chris Holroyd for a tap-in only for the linesman to flag for offside.

The judgment on that decision was debatable, but the performance was not – Stevenage had deserved their point but really should have returned with all three.

Rotherham (4-4-2): Warrington 8, Newey 6, Fenton 6 (Holden, 74), Mullins 5, Geohaghan 6, Law 7, J Taylor 6, Ellison 7, Bradley 7 (Harrison, 86), Pope 6 (R Taylor, 85), Le Fondr 6. Subs: Annerson, Green, Warne, Marshall.

Stevenage (4-5-1): Day 7, Henry 7, Laird 6, Ashton 8, Roberts 7, Long 8 (Bridges, 75), Wilson 6 (Odubade 6, 63), Bostwick 7, Mousinho 8, Winn 7, Holroyd 7. Subs: Bayes, Foster, Charles, Vincenti, Griffin.