Rotherham United boss Leam Richardson highlights where Millers weren't 'aggressive' enough against Stoke - plus why Peter Kioso was absent

ROTHERHAM UNITED manager Leam Richardson felt his side paid the price for not being ‘aggressive’ enough in their offensive play after a flat 1-0 home reverse to Stoke City in an uneventful game at the AESSEAL New York Stadium.

A drab encounter was lit up by a moment of brilliance seconds before half-time when Lewis Baker scored with a brilliant free-kick.

The Millers huffed and puffed but lacked the wit to hit back in the second half, despite Richardson emptying the bench.

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The hosts failed to muster a single effort on target on a very disappointing afternoon.

Rotherham United manager Leam Richardson. Picture: PARotherham United manager Leam Richardson. Picture: PA
Rotherham United manager Leam Richardson. Picture: PA

Rotherham prop up the table and are eight points behind fourth-from-bottom Huddersfield Town.

Richardson, who said after the game that Peter Kioso - who recently returned from a loan spell from League One side Peterborough United - was missing through illness - said: “I was disappointed. The first emotion is that there is a game to be won and it was probably a 0-0, wasn’t it - but a moment of quality wins the game.

"In the second half especially, I thought we were possibly the aggressor without having that final moment of quality and decision-making within us.

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"It’s important you try and be really diligent in certain areas of the pitch (getting the defensive side right), which I think we have been and then you have to be expressive in certain areas and that comes down to the quality of player with areas that you get into the game.

"One of my frustrations was that we got into some good areas and final third entries, but I wanted us to be a bit more aggressive with our crosses, shots and actions.

"It’s about keeping positive, working hard and on the front foot, making positive decisions whether that be on the training ground or on the field as a group and individually.”

The goal came following a free-kick which was softly awarded when ex-Potters midfielder Sam Clucas - whose name was jeered by the travelling contingent from the Potteries when it was read out beforehand - was deemed to have fouled Jordan Thompson.

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Richardson commented: "It’s never a good time to concede, but when the whistle possibly should have gone beforehand and then the free-kick…. I haven’t seen it back, but don’t think it was a free-kick.

"The officials have a million moving parts. They will get some right and wrong. The goal was a moment of quality and if the score had flipped around, I think their manager would be probably saying the same thing as I am saying.

"I don’t think any keeper had a lot to do and we cancelled each other out for large parts.”

On the absence of Kioso from the matchday squad, Richardson said: "He’s been ill for three days.”

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Offering his take on the game, Stoke head coach Steven Schumacher said: “I’m happy. It was a really tough game and one we expected.

"It was a battle and we had to stand up to everything Rotherham threw at us.

"I was delighted and we showed quality in possession as a team. It was a really good performance.

"It was a brilliant goal, unstoppable. I was really pleased. It’s been a tough season for him (Baker) and he’s not played a lot of football.”