SEAN RAGGETT, the Norwich City defender on loan at Rotherham United this season, once made the ‘European Team of the Week’ in Gazzetta dello Sport.
His inclusion a little under 18 months ago alongside more familiar names such as Isco, Javier Hernandez and Harry Kane was one of the more unlikely in the history of the respected Italian sports newspaper.
Raggett, then with Lincoln City, netting the last-minute winner that knocked top-flight Burnley out of the FA Cup explained the presence on such a stellar list of someone who, at the time, had never played higher than non-League.
The 24-year-old was at it again yesterday by heading the only goal as Rotherham United beat Millwall.
However, while readers flicking through today’s edition of Italy’s top-selling paper are likely to be blissfully unaware of Raggett’s latest scoring exploits, the loanee from Norwich breaking his scoring duck in South Yorkshire was still big news for the Millers.
Rotherham needed a lift after back-to-back defeats to Leeds United and Hull City in which Paul Warne’s men had enjoyed spells on top only for all that good work to be undone by basic errors.
And a fixture list that sees the Millers tackle Wigan, Derby, Aston Villa, Nottingham Forest and Stoke before the end of next month suggests Rotherham will need the breathing space provided by Raggett’s winner.
“I was really proud of the team,” said manager Warne. “The lads did exactly what we asked for the majority of the game against a really good side. Not to lose a second home game in a row was crucial.
“This was a day when the weather meant it finally felt like the football season has started and the cricket season is over. A real football day in Yorkshire and the sort of game where I would like to think the neutral enjoyed it.”
The Den, surrounded by a labyrinth of dark railway arches and scrapyards, has one of the more forbidding approaches to a football ground in this country.
Yesterday, however, the New York Stadium looked just as unappealing as the Millwall team bus rolled into South Yorkshire for the second time inside four days under a slate-grey sky and with the temperature more akin to November than an August Bank Holiday.
Neil Harris, the Lions’ manager, had accused his players of not being up for the fight at Sheffield Wednesday in midweek until the closing stages of a 2-1 defeat.
He cut a similarly frustrated figure on the touchline yesterday during a first half that saw Rotherham, after a slow start, seize the initiative.
Aerial power is going to be a big part of Rotherham’s attempts to beat the drop, but this was a performance that also brought plenty of quality on the ball.
Semi Ajayi, just as he had been at Elland Road, was a tower of strength sitting in front of the back four, while Will Vaulks produced his most accomplished display of the season.
It was Vaulks who created the only goal with a short throw to Ryan Williams that soon saw the ball back at the feet of the former Falkirk midfielder.
His cross from wide on the right flank was perfect and Raggett provided the deftest of headers to leave Jordan Archer with no chance in the Millwall goal.
Further openings followed for the Millers before the interval, but Ajayi fired into the side netting and Michael Smith headed narrowly wide. Aiden O’Brien was also fortunate to get away with what looked like a clear handball when cutting out a Smith cross.
The best Millwall could offer in the first half was a Jed Wallace shot that Marek Rodak saved easily.
After the break, however, was a different matter with Rodak having to be at his best to deny Jake Cooper from a corner.
The Slovakian then left Tom Elliott equally frustrated with another fine stop before Vaulks did well to avert the danger deep inside the Rotherham six-yard box by heading a searching corner from Shaun Williams over his own crossbar.
Warne’s side also had chances with Smith bringing a save from Archer after exchanging passes with Kyle Vassell and the impressive Ryan Manning curling a shot just over.
But the second goal just would not come meaning it was an anxious wait until referee Geoff Eltringham blew the final whistle to signal a second win of the season for the hosts and a second defeat inside four days on South Yorkshire soil for Millwall.
“I am extremely disappointed to come away with nothing from Yorkshire,” said Lions manager Harris. “We were a million per cent better than we had been at Sheffield Wednesday or at least on our first 70 minutes at Hillsborough. But this is twice in four days that we have thrown points away up here.”
Rotherham United: Rodak; Vyner, Raggett, Wood, Mattock; Ajayi; Williams, Vaulks, Vassell (Newell. 87), Manning; Smith (Proctor 76). Unused substitutes: Bilboe, Palmer, Ball, Taylor, Robertson.
Millwall: Archer; McLaughlin, Cooper, M Wallace, Meredith; J Wallace, Tunnicliffe (Morison 79), Williams, O’Brien (Skalak 65); Elliott, Gregory (Bradshaw 65). Unused substitutes: Amos, Ferguson, Romeo, Webster.