Aldershot Town 0 Rotherham United 1: Hot-shot Le Fondre increases price on his head

ADAM Le Fondre reckons his transfer value goes up by £100,000 every time he hits the net.

On the basis of that theory, Rotherham United are now sitting on a 3m asset.

Striker Le Fondre took his tally for the season to 29 with a dramatic late goal that gave the Millers victory in the first leg of this League Two play-off semi-final against Aldershot.

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It was his first goal in open play for 12 games and his first in three consecutive play-off campaigns after previous disappointments at former club Rochdale.

Significantly, it also gave the Millers a first win in a play-off game after four previous failures in 1988 and 1999.

Le Fondre, 23, makes no secret of his desire to play at a higher level next season and has been linked with a move to Barnsley yet manager Ronnie Moore insists that he will only leave for a 'daft' fee.

Yet if the Millers do go on to win promotion, who knows – maybe the talismanic striker could be persuaded to stay.

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"I don't know anything about the speculation but every time I score I say my fee has gone up by another 100 grand," he laughed.

"There is a lot of speculation but my head is fully focused on getting up through the play-offs. I want to play as high as possible but my main aim is getting promoted with Rotherham."

There were just three minutes of the game remaining when

Le Fondre seized on a poor back pass from defender Aaron Brown and slotted the ball home.

It sparked joyous scenes among the 500 supporters who had made the journey from South Yorkshire to Hampshire, the majority located on terracing which stood in the shadows of three large trees.

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Without question, the Recreation Ground stirred echoes of Rotherham's former home ground Millmoor. For it, too, is a relic of a bygone era, only with green leaves instead of a scrapyard over the boundary fence.

Only five years ago, the Shots were a mid-table Conference club who had spent the previous 15 years in non-league waters after going bust.

The Millers, meanwhile, were rubbing shoulders with the likes of Wolverhampton Wanderers and Sunderland in the Championship, enjoying arguably the most successful period in the club's history.

Since 2005, however, it has been a very different story with Aldershot's fortunes improving significantly and the Millers enduring three spells in administration and two relegations.

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The return of Moore, the manager who had been at the helm during those glory years, was an astute move by chairman Tony Stewart when Mark Robins left for Barnsley – but Rotherham's players have taken longer than expected to adjust to his ways.

Things, however, may just be falling into place at the right time with the Millers looking solid again at the back on Saturday and Le Fondre rediscovering his scoring touch.

The Millers finished one point and one position above the Shots in the table but staggered into the play-offs, winning only two of their last nine games.

And after occupying a top three-spot spot for the majority of the season, there was still a sense of disappointment at having blown the opportunity to go up automatically.

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Manager Moore had looked to ease the burden of responsibility on Le Fondre by recalling striker Ryan Taylor – just back from a loan spell in League One with Exeter City.

But Taylor had the Millers' only other clear-cut chance when heading wide unmarked just after the hour mark.

Aldershot lost goalkeeper Jamie Young after just 24 minutes, following a collision with Le Fondre, but it was not a major setback.

Substitite Mikhael Jaimez-Ruiz, a Venezualan international, was largely unemployed, although he would have been helpless to prevent a goal when Le Fondre's boot was only inches away from a risky back-header by Andy Sandell.

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For long periods, there was little to choose between these sides with defences firmly on top.

Millers goalkeeper Andy Warrington, blinded by the sun, got caught in two minds when a ball was played over the top and his hesitancy nearly let in Dean Morgan.

Warrington, however, managed to get to the ball just before the advancing striker and his challenge was crucial.

Ian Sharps and Nick Fenton stood tall as pillars of strength for the Millers while full-back Gavin Gunning also proved his worth with a brilliant last-ditch tackle to deny Marvin Morgan on the stroke of half-time.

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Fenton might have made an even bigger impression just after the break but his header from a corner was blocked on the line.

With Kevin Ellison snapping and snarling his way around the pitch and Pablo Mills breaking things up in midfield, this was the Millers back to something like their best.

Only an inch-perfect challenge from Mills, however, stopped Dean Morgan in the second half as well as a good eye from referee Andy D'Urso in ruling that it had not warranted a penalty.

Ultimately, however, Aldershot had only themselves to blame for this defeat.

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Winger Anthony Straker missed a hat-trick of decent opportunities before Brown's late clanger let in Le Fondre.

Now, if they can hold onto this lead in Wednesday night's second leg at the Don Valley Stadium, the Millers will be off to Wembley, knowing they are just 90 minutes away from promotion to League One.


Hero: Adam Le Fondre

The Millers striker, above right, showed just why he is rated so highly by seizing on a defensive error and tucking away his late winner. It is now 29 goals this season for Le Fondre, who is surely destined for life at a higher level.

Villain: Aaron Brown

The Aldershot captain dropped the clanger which resulted in Rotherham's goal. Under pressure on the edge of his own box, Brown tried to head the ball back to his goalkeeper but failed to spot Le Fondre on the prowl.

Key moment

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87th minute: With only three minutes to play, this game looked destined to end scoreless. However, Brown's poor back-header let in

Le Fondre for the goal that could yet send the Millers to Wembley.

Ref watch

Andy D'Urso: Former Premier League referee D'Urso had a solid afternoon. Got the big penalty calls right and kept a lid on things when tempers frayed.


Having endured three spells in administration and two relegations since 2005, returning manager Ronnie Moore is on the verge of reversing Rotherham United's fortunes. Striker Adam Le Fondre's late strike on Saturday means the Millers will take a priceless

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one-goal lead into Wednesday night's second leg as they pursue the prize of promotion to League One via a trip to Wembley, where Dagenham & Redbridge seem certain to stand in the way of whoever goes through.

Quote of the day

He's come back a different player. I didn't even know he could talk until the other day.

– Millers manager Ronnie Moore hails the improvement in recalled striker Ryan Taylor.

Next game

Rotherham United v Aldershot; League Two play-off semi-final, second leg; Wednesday, 7.45.