The final game of the season saw the 2nd XI travel up the M1 to Leeds to face League title chasing Leeds University for what was sure to be a tough game.
The boys in blue welcomed Oliver De Roeck
, Alex Williamson
, John -Joe Massey, Robert Owen, Lee Dodge (captain in his brothers absence), and debutant, Steve Massey
into the side to replace 6 unavailable players from the previous game and, in a game with numerous debated (by the umpires)
decisions, 2 head injuries, 2 penalty strokes, both teams hitting the woodwork and 6 goals, the much changed, fairly inexperienced Rotherham team put in a very commendable performance.
The home side started the game at a fast pace which Rotherham fought hard to keep up with as both teams played some attractive hockey and created chances. Rotherhams most notable chance coming after some great link up play from Norton to Dodge, the ball was passed to Ward just inside the D whos shot produced a fine save from the home goalkeeper.
However, a momentary lack of concentration cost the visitors a goal as Leeds Uni attacked down the left, a forward was able to lose his defender and knock the ball into the goal to break the deadlock.
However, unlike the previous visit to Weetwood, Rotherham remained resolute and did not collapse.
After 20 minutes of the game came the 1st debated decision of the day, in favour of the home side. From a Leeds Uni short corner, a powerfull, slightly lifted shot deflected off the stick of De Roeck and into the roof of the Rotherham goal. After a minute or 2 consultation the umpires concluded that the initial shot was going to be low enough to be legal and so allowed the goal.
Despite this setback, Rotherham pushed hard for a goal and nearly got it as a Lee Dodge improvised well to hit a raised ball on the reverse only to see the effort strike the upright.
However, soon after Rotherham got themselves onto the score sheet and back in the game thanks to the 2nd debated decision of the day, this time in their favour. As Ben Davis
received the ball at a short corner and shaped to shoot, the home captain challanged from the wrong side, impeded the shot and in the process, caught a stick to the head for his troubles. After the player was attended to and taken to the sidelines, after much debate between the umpires, a penalty stroke was awarded and Lee Dodge placed the ball on the spot. From the resulting stroke Dodge flicked the ball into the right hand corner of the goal for his 24th of the season to make the score 2-1, which is how it stayed until the break.
In the 2nd half Rotherham took the game to the home side and pushed hard for an equaliser but could not find the killer touch. Chances came and went as Lee Dodge, Robert Owen, Ben Davis
, Connor Ward and James Norton all has efforts well saved by the Leeds Uni goalkeeper. Eventually Rotherham did have the ball in the goal but the umpire blew the whistle a split second before Dodge poked the ball home to award a short corner.
However, despite all of the pressure, Rotherham soon conceded a 3rd goal after a moment of madness saw John-Joe Massey fly out of his goal to meet a Leeds Uni forward and clatter into him to give them home side a penalty stroke which was converted to give them a 3-1 lead and undo all of the hard work from the Rotherham team.
Shortly after, with Rotherham pushing hard, Leeds Uni broke and were awarded a penalty corner - Massey was adjudged to have layed on the ball.
From the resulting short corner,De Roeck blocked the initial shot well on the left post but the ball fortuitiously broke to the oncoming attacker to make it a very flattering 4-1 to the home side and effectively kill the game as a contest.
At the final whistle, Rotherham could feel happy with their overall performamce against a good side. Full credit must go to them for playing from the 1st to the last minute and made the league leaders work hard for the win.
Man of the Match: Rob Owen