Seaside special from Clark Robertson gives Rotherham United victory at Blackpool

OVER the years, countless Scots have liked nothing better than to take a relaxing break ‘doon the watter’ at Blackpool and sample the charms of England’s biggest seaside resort.

Winning smiles: Rotherham United's Jake Hastie, left, and scorer Clark Robertson celebrate after the final whistle.
Winning smiles: Rotherham United's Jake Hastie, left, and scorer Clark Robertson celebrate after the final whistle.

Scots Week – a summer occasion when thousands from north of the border decamp to the Fylde coast at the start of the Scottish school holidays – is as much a part of Blackpool folklore as the Golden Mile, Gypsy Petulengro and donkey rides on the beach.

It may have long since gone for 2019 but Scotland’s love affair with Blackpool will always endure. Just ask Clark Robertson.

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The Aberdonian had a smile as broad as the Don – the one in the north-east of Scotland as opposed to South Yorkshire – after his collectors’ item of a goal at his old club’s expense on Saturday.

It was all the more remarkable given the defender had not been expecting to play, with testament to that arriving in the fact that he told his father Michael, a virtual ever-present at every game his son plays in, not to come.

But football is known for its delicious surprises, with a late quad injury sustained by Joe Mattock promoting Robertson to the Rotherham United starting line-up.

If that was a surprise, so was only his second career goal at Bloomfield Road – he scored just one in three seasons on home soil with the Seasiders.

Robertson, who confidently struck a half-volley home after Trevor Clarke’s free-kick was not cleared three minutes from time to put United 2-0 up, said: “I did not have time to think about it. I was just kind of thrown in and it was almost as if it was meant to be. Coming here and scoring, well...

“It is probably the best goal I have scored so far in my career.

“I had not played in front of a (big) crowd here before as we only used to get a few thousand a few years ago, so that was nice.

“I think I have come back in and shown what I am about. Maybe I have had slight dip in form – which can happen to anyone, I guess – but I have just had to keep mentally strong and I have dealt with bigger things before. I thought I took my chance.”

On his father missing his strike, he added: “I did not think I was playing, so I told him to stay at home. I think he was watching it on the Sky Sports goals show and sent me a video of my goal. He’d have loved to have been here.”

Visits to Blackpool may be a tradition for Scots, but so is the sight of Rotherham enjoying their excursions to the seaside. Paul Warne cannot get enough of the place either.

The Millers are now unbeaten at Bloomfield Road – the scene of Warne’s debut in professional football when he scored with a deft chip – since March, 1997.

Their previous win in December, 2017 proved a season-defining moment. It was a 2017-18 season which ended in promotion.

It remains to be seen if this latest win proves as significant.

But one thing is for sure, this result will have pricked the attention of those currently in the top echelons of League One.

Make no mistake, they will be looking over their shoulders and denoting the presence of Rotherham, who are finally showing signs of getting their campaign together after a patchy start.

Given the dressing-room inquest that went on after the last away game at Bristol Rovers, this was the response that Warne will have been hankering for.

It was not picture-perfect, with the hosts dominating in the first half and Warne glad to get his side in level-pegging 0-0 at half-time.

But all successful sides must have backbone. As the Millers forcibly showed on the restart.

It was not a free-flowing ‘statement’ win. But as Warne correctly observed, it is not the first job of the visiting side to entertain.

Especially at a difficult venue such as Blackpool. If you want entertainment, head to the Central Pier or the Tower Ballroom.

After the previous weekend’s highs against Coventry, the Millers were given much more to think about by a home side who justified their status as one of the division’s stronger outfits with a forceful first-half showing.

A blinding one-handed save from Daniel Iversen to turn away Sean Scannell’s stinging drive, with Matty Virtue hitting the woodwork soon after showed that Blackpool certainlymeant business.

That was reinforced when the Millers goalkeeper made a sharp near-post save to grasp Armand Gnanduillet’s header.

Crucially, United did not buckle and posted a warning when Michael Ihiekwe’s back-header clipped the bar before the break.

After the interval, Rotherham upped it and Michael Smith soon continued his fine week by diverting the ball home after Robertson rose well to head Dan Barlaser’s free-kick into the danger zone.

Suitably piqued, Blackpool were thwarted by a linesman’s flag when Curtis Tilt bundled in after challenging Iversen.

But after that, the hosts started to run out of ideas, with the United defence staying on-message.

Robertson then had his moment after blasting home a cracker and how he celebrated afterwards.

Gnanduillet’s header grazed the bar before faring better deep in stoppage-time from the penalty spot after Ihiekwe was penalised for fouling Tilt.

But this was Rotherham’s day by the seaside. Again.