Promotion secured in midweek season finale
RHC V's Sheffield Bankers
With the season scheduled to have finished four weeks previous, Rotherham's re-arranged game with Sheffield Bankers was set for a Thursday evening. Playing into April is not the norm but twice the league had to extend the season end date to allow for many fixtures to be re-scheduled due to bad weather cancellations.
In Rotherham's previous fixture on Saturday 7th April they had faced Hull University away. A side that had arrived at Aurora earlier in the season still feeling the effects of a heavy night out the day previous this time looked organised and sharp in their warm-up as they looked to get out of the relegation battle they had put themselves in. With some players missing Rotherham attempted to play their usual formation and set-up. But, with changes across the field the side didn't gel and possession in the early stages fell to Hull. Twice Rotherham came from behind to keep the score level at 2-2 with 10 minutes to go. Hull capitalised on their chances though and in two successive attacks took a two goal lead. Rotherham fought on and got 1 back but with time against them it wasn't enough to secure any points. A difficult game where Rotherham were twice reduced to nine men through cards for dissent, however there were many positives to take from the game. The only real disappointment in terms of the performance being the number of penalty corners compared to the number of conversions; only 1 goal from 12.
After losing at Hull, the already promoted Rotherham side knew they needed a win to secure the top spot and go up as champions, this was a game where pride was at stake. With players queueing up for a place in the Thursday evening squad for the chance to feature in the promotion winning side, it meant for the first time this season there were more players available than the 16 man team sheet allowed. After only recently retuning from a nasty hand injury David Baylis, took on a coaching role on the side line. The fixture was set to be a show piece for the team and the club; with stalwart midfielder Mathew Webb playing his last game, utility player Luke Bridger playing his last game as he soon returns home after university, and finally captain James Thomas leading the team for the last time after an eight year stint at the head of the side. Club members, family and friends came out in their droves to show their support for the side, a testament to the great spirit within the club.
With a changed formation Rotherham took to the field, with a clear message; control the first 10 minutes. That they did. Rotherham looked in inspired form, playing the ball around calmly and as Bankers chased the chances began to come. Player of the season and leading club and league goal scorer Jack Hartley continued to show his excellent form as he worked tirelessly down the wing, linking up well with Ben Davis and Danny Needham. Bankers did mount the occasional attack themselves, but with a solid defence of Andy Downs, Graham Ibbotson and Steve Siddle they never got the chance to test goal keeper Tony Cooper. Rotherham worked hard and won a string of penalty corners but were once again unable to capitalise on these, with Needham twice testing the Bankers goal keeper. Goals did soon come for Rotherham though and at the half time break they were in a commanding 3-0 lead.
After re-organising Bankers looked more of a challenge in the early stages of the second half, with an extra central midfielder causing problems. The Rotherham midfield of Ricky Benton, Thomas, Webb and Bridger worked tirelessly to keep the clean sheet. Using their subs effectively Rotherham stayed in control, with Fraser Andrews, Jake Ward, Lee Kaighan, Peter Hucknall and josh towers all rolling through the side to keep things fresh. The Bankers keeper seemed in great form and made some excellent saves to deny Rotherham, but as time ticked on goals did begin to flow. The opposition were unable to handle the skill from Benton down the right side, and with some great team link up plays the keeper was unable to deny the home sides flurrry of attacks. 8-0 the final score.
An outstanding performance from the Rotherham team in-front of a supportive home crowd that sees them crowned as champions of Yorkshire Division 1. The first season on the new Aurora pitch has been a fantastic one for the club with the men's second team also being promoted as champions, and the men's third team and ladies 1st team having solid seasons in their respective leagues.