ROTHERHAM UNITED defender Danny Collins has been around the block as a gnarled centre-back but today he is celebrating a career first.
Namely his first professional league goal with his foot at the tender age of 35 and with his seventh full-time club, to boot.
Collins’s strike just after the break cancelled out Reading striker Nick Blackman’s stunner and it was the first Millers goal at the New York Stadium under Neil Redfearn.
The new Millers chief had spoken about the importance of goals being shared around and Collins’s strike was a step in that direction, and crowned a vibrant second-half performance.
On his strike, Collins said: “It was a strange one. I was saying to the boys on Monday when we were doing set-plays that I have never scored with my foot.
“I had scored 14 or 15 goals, but they had all been with my head. I have never had one drop to me in the box or anything. Faz (Farrend Rawson) managed to block Paul McShane and I got three or four yards spare at the back.
“I was thinking of putting it back in there. But I thought I’d have a swing at it and it went under the keeper and it was a nice feeling to get us level.
“I will have to do a bit with the strikers now and pick up the Golden Boot at the end of the season!”
After a first-half where Reading posed problems and were decent value for their lead, Redfearn earned his money at the interval, with Collins admitting that he had one or two choice words as well.
The direct messages were laced with encouragement and they paid off handsomely on a night when several young players elevated by Redfearn to the starting line-up impressed, particularly Tom Thorpe and Harry Toffolo.
Collins said: “A few words were said at half-time by the gaffer and I thought we came out and had a good go at them in the second-half and at least deserved a draw.
“He sorted one or two things out and we put in a good 45. On another night, we perhaps could have nicked it.
“There were a lot of positives from our second-half performance and let’s hope we can start like that against Sheffield Wednesday on Friday.”
On the impact made by Redfearn so far, Collins added: “He is what I expected. He’s a typical burly Yorkshireman with a good ‘row’ in him at half-time if he needs to and we saw it a bit.
“But he’s worked with Eric (Black) well on a good bit of shape on the training ground and got his point across on what he’s expecting of us and it’s a fresh start for a lot of the boys.”
Redfearn was also left enthusing about Tuesday’s second-half display, with the fact that it came against a side whom he believes are the best in the Championship adding significant weight.
Redfearn added: “It was music to my ears when I spoke to Steve Clarke afterwards and he said that is the most ruffled that his centre-halves had been (this season), which is a big compliment.
“A top side and a side trying to find their way and a bit of confidence locked horns and it was a good performance.”