He may not be a football genius but Paul Warne has led Rotherham United to the top

On target: Kyle Vassell heads home Rotherham's opener. Picture: Dean Atkins
On target: Kyle Vassell heads home Rotherham's opener. Picture: Dean Atkins
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Rotherham United may well sit proudly atop League One, but there is little danger of them being allowed to get carried away with their current position.

Saturday’s 3-0 home success over Bristol Rovers was a comfortable one in the end and means that the Millers can enjoy a second weekend looking down on the rest of the teams in the division.

Rotherham United's Kyle Vassell controls under pressure (Picture: Dean Atkins)

Rotherham United's Kyle Vassell controls under pressure (Picture: Dean Atkins)

Yet, according to manager Paul Warne, there is plenty more that his players can do better.

They were far too pedestrian during the opening half and could easily have found themselves behind against a visiting side who are now without a win in eight matches.

The Millers were much better after the break and won with something to spare once they finally got out of second gear, though better opponents would likely have punished them.

If they want to remain in pole position, the Millers cannot afford to continue only turning up for 45 minutes.

After we spoke to them at half-time they did come out and do it, but there’s been many occasions where they haven’t, so I’m not a soccer genuis.

Paul Warne

“First half, we didn’t move the ball quick enough, we just looked a bit laboured, which disappointed me,” said Warne.

“Second half, we looked a bit more like us, our performance justified a win, but there’s a bit of a warning for the dressing room that we can’t keep doing that at home.

“I was happy to get in at half-time at 0-0. Even at 2-0, on another day one of their chances might go in. They did create chances, it wasn’t like Bristol Rovers laid down. I thought they had a right go.

“I put a lot down to luck. I think if they scored when it was 0-0 the day could have taken a different route and I still didn’t think that we were as good second half as I would like because they were still given chances.

“There were a couple of times where I was waiting for our net to ripple, so I wouldn’t go too crazy about the fact that we won.

“Overall, I thought we deserved to win, but at 2-0 if they’d got one, it could’ve been a much worse day.”

The stark contrast in terms of the level of intensity which United played with in the second period compared to the first presumably owes much to what Warne said to his charges during the interval.

While he admits that his half-time team-talks have not always been as productive, the Millers chief admitted that he was pleased with the response he managed to inspire on this occasion.

“I always ask them what they think, then I tell them what I think, and then we come to an agreement that I’m right,” added Warne in Brian Clough-esque fashion.

“It is pleasing to get a response, but then I have to look at myself because they didn’t do that from the start of the game.

“They did go out with the right purpose, but it just felt like in the first half they were waiting for someone to do something magical.

“In fairness, after we spoke to them at half-time they did come out and do it, but there’s been many occasions where they haven’t, so I’m not a soccer genuis, that’s for sure.”

Things could have panned out very differently at the New York Stadium had Rovers striker Jonson Clarke-Harris not spurned a glorious early chance to open the scoring against his former club, missing the target when he was picked out by Alex Rodman’s inviting cross.

The closest the Millers came at the other end was when Michael Smith met Ben Wiles’s centre from the left, but got too much on his header.

Clarke-Harris drew an important, diving stop out of United custodian Daniel Iversen on 34 minutes, though there was little action of note before the break.

But, just five minutes after the resumption, Rotherham moved in front courtesy of Kyle Vassell’s fourth goal in three matches.

Chiedozie Ogbene delivered a perfect cross from the right and the in-form former Blackpool striker headed past the horribly exposed Jordi van Stappershoef from close range.

Less than 120 seconds later, Ogbene produced another excellent centre and this time it was Smith who rose to nod into the bottom right-hand corner.

United continued to look a threat when they went forwards, while it took until the final 10 minutes for Rovers to muster any kind of a meaningful response.

Josh Ginnelly’s headed effort was tipped over the bar by Iversen, then Clarke-Harris went close again, nodding narrowly the wrong side of the upright.

But the result was put well and truly beyond doubt two minutes from time when Ogbene progressed from provider to finisher.

Substitute Freddie Ladapo demonstrated some nice footwork as he cut inside off the left and drew a sprawling parry out of Stappershoef. However, the Millers’ man of the match was on hand to clinically sweep home the loose ball.

Rotherham United: Iversen, Olosunde, Ihiekwe, Wood, Wiles, Ogbene, Crooks (Lindsay 79), Barlaser, Adelakun (Lamy 84), Smith, Vassell (Ladapo 73). Unused substitutes: MacDonald, Clarke, Hastie, Bilboe.

Bristol Rovers: van Stappershoef, Menayese, Craig, Kilgour (Davies 74), Rodman, Upson, Barrett (Ginnelly 70), Sercombe (Clarke 59), Leahy, Reilly, Clarke-Harris. Unused substitutes: Holmes-Dennis, Nichols, Mitchell-Lawson, Andre.

Referee: L Doughty (England).