Big-match verdict: Better late than never as Towell rewards Rotherham United

Kieffer Moore of Rotherham (Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage)Kieffer Moore of Rotherham (Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage)
Kieffer Moore of Rotherham (Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage)
HAND a party invite to Richie Towell and he is likely to be fashionably late.

The deadline-day jamboree was in full swing when the Dubliner signed on the dotted line for Rotherham United with around an hour to spare at 10pm – making an evening dash to Yorkshire after initially being en route for a medical at another club.

Towell again displayed an exquisite sense of timing on Saturday to help his new club secure their second landmark result in the space of a week.

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Paul Warne may, rightly, acknowledge that his Millers side still carry some ‘psychological scars’ from last season’s cataclysmic campaign when damaging defeats and dreadful statistics arrived by the boatload.

But given the evidence of the past two games, things might just be starting to change.

After securing an uplifting first away success in 17 months at Portsmouth, the numbers stacked up again six days on. The Millers claimed back-to-back league wins for the first time in an identical 17-month timeframe and displayed similar durability and character in the process.

Pinned back on two occasions by a Bury side who brought little to the table, but looked likely to pilfer a scarcely-deserved point after taking two rare chances when they came along, the Millers refused to be browbeaten and dug out a precious win.

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It was the sort of game that the Millers of last season would have probably gone on and lost.

Rotherham’s previous home league triumph against Southend may have been a much grander statement, but Saturday’s victory was every bit as important to their overall well-being.

Just like on that afternoon against the Shrimpers when the hosts scored five without reply, Kieffer Moore came to the party in a big way once again.

After his treble on August 12, he added two more smartly-taken goals to his growing collection. Over three decades on from hailing another centre-forward by the name of Moore, Millers fans may have found another hero.

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But ultimately, the afternoon belonged to Towell, who displayed the predatory credentials which saw him score goals for fun in his time across the Irish Sea at Dundalk.

And what timing too, with his sweetly and instinctively-struck low shot in the 89th minute helping to round off one of the better weeks of Warne’s time in charge of his beloved Millers.

Good job that Warne was so persuasive in luring Brighton attacking midfielder Towell to the club back on August 31 too.

On his move, Towell, who rebuffed interest from a Championship club to join Rotherham, said: “It was quite late. There was a fair bit of interest in the transfer window. I was actually on my way to do a medical somewhere (else).

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“I got a phone call to say Rotherham were interested and I just turned back around and came here. I spoke to the gaffer as I was driving back and there was only one place I wanted to be.

“I signed maybe at 10pm on deadline day. It was about nine o’clock when I got the call. To be fair, he wanted to sign me in the January window, so I knew he had always rated me as a player.

“The gaffer is just honest. He is a lot different to other managers I have had and I am loving it. I am only in the door, I know, but we have had two good wins out of two and there is a feel-good factor around the place.

“All the lads want to win for the gaffer because he is so honest and everyone is pulling in the same direction.”

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Warne witnessed both the old and the new in a see-saw match which ended with the right outcome. Anything other than a home win would have been wholly unjust.

In command in the first half, it was unfathomable that the hosts went in level at the interval.

Veteran keeper Joe Murphy showed sprightly reactions to deny Michael Ihiekwe, Ryan Williams and Will Vaulks, while Jon Taylor produced a glaring miss in front of a gaping goal after doing all of the hard work in rounding Murphy.

That should have provided the hosts with a two-goal buffer, but moments later, ex-Leeds United and Huddersfield Town forward Jermaine Beckford showed that he has lost none of his goalscoring nous by clinically heading in Ryan Lowe’s centre to restore parity and briefly wind the hosts.

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Rotherham’s one first-half goal was a peach, with Moore looking every inch a striker boasting burgeoning confidence levels after latching onto Will Vaulks’ raking pass. His first touch was impeccable and his low finish past Murphy was similarly admirable.

Moore’s second on 54 minutes was rather more old-school centre-forward, but street-smart too. He craftily found space before heading home Taylor’s centre – with Vaulks again playing a telling part in the build-up.

Moore’s eventful afternoon was such that he soon went off for running repairs to a head wound, but there were no dramas until Bury again levelled when Nathan Cameron was left unmarked after Smith headed on Greg Leigh’s deep free-kick.

Underemployed debutant keeper Marek Rodak then denied sub Mihai Dobre, but it was left to Towell to provide the sting.

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Rotherham United: Rodak; Cummings (Towell 40), Ihiekwe, Wood, Purrington; Potter; R Williams (Forde 75), Frecklington (Ball 85), Vaulks, Taylor; Moore. Unused substitutes: O’Donnell, Mattock, Yates, Newell.

Bury: Murphy; J Williams (Dobre 55), Cameron, Whitmore, Leigh; Edwards, Ince, Laurent, Bunn; Beckford, Lowe (Smith 60). Unused substitutes: Fasan, Maguire, Reilly, Aldred, Cooney.

Referee: C Sarginson (Staffordshire).