ROTHERHAM UNITED 1-2 COVENTRY CITY BY KEV MONKS
Happy New Year to you all on whatever part of the planet you are reading this.
Two tap-ins were enough to give City a victory over Rotherham that keeps Peter Reid in a job for a few more days.
After the defeat at Gillingham,things had reached an all-time low and something needed to happen.
Chairman Mike McGinnity had again resorted to blaming everyone else bar the players whilst the under fire City manager kept sthum.
As we set off up a reasonably quiet M1 for the hour and a half trip to South Yorkshire, the mood amongst the City supporters was not one of optimism for the year to come.
Around 400 City supporters including one from Bochum in Germany made their way to Rotherham and those suffering from welcoming in 2005 were able to get hair of the dog cures at one the drinking venues which were this season admitting away supporters.
Peter Reid who was rumoured to have been on his way with Mickey Adams taking over if he had lost, made three changes from the team that had lost in the final game of 2004.
Stuart Giddings came in for Steve Staunton in defence,Michael Doyle replaced Neil Wood in midfield and up front Stern John replaced Graham Barrett who was dropped to the bench. Again there was no Andy Morrell with a touch of flu being given as the official reason for his absence rather than interest from Brighton & Hove Albion.
John whose name was booed as it was announced went up front with Dele Adebola with Eddy Johnson going out on the right wing.
We'd journeyed up in sunshine but as the game kicked off, the heavens opened and the pouring rain meant a greasy surface.
In the sixth minute, City attacked down the left through Adebola who sent over a ball which Johnson swung his right leg at,hitting a defender and giving City the first corner of the match.
No sooner had Louis Carey wasted the flag kick, had Stern John fallen over and won City a free kick some thirty yards out. Captain Stephen Hughes who was playing despite a suspected broken nose,sent a long ball that just missed Adie Williams at the far post.
Coventry's Trinidadian was involved in the eleventh minute when he was on hand to head away a Paul McLaren free kick.
With the City supporters engaging in some good natured banter with the Rotherham supporters in the stand to our right,a 19th minute cross from Hughes found Eddy Johnson at the far post. The loanee from Manchester United headed the ball goalwards but somehow, Millers keeper Mike Pollitt got down to scramble away.
As one lone City supporter away to my left, emitted a loud chant of "Get McGinnity Out", McLaren got down the left and sent the ball over. Richard Shaw dived to head the ball away. But it only went a few yards to Andy Monkhouse who rifled a low drive which Steele got down to his left to save.
Gary McSheffrey again was working hard trying to get the Sky Blues attacking and in the 23rd minute, he cut in from the left flank and drilled the ball across the face of the goal. Like his effort in the game at Gillingham from roughly the same distance,it missed everyone before going out for a goal kick.
A minute later,Eddy Johnson pumped forward a hopeful ball, it bounced over the head of the Millers keeper. Somehow,Pollitt extended his arms to their full limit and was able to grab the ball and keep the score-line goal less.
Jamal Campbell Ryce, whom the last time I had seen him was on the receiving end of punches thrown by Craig Pead in a reserve game at Charlton was easily the best player on the pitch and was a constant threat.
He had already set Barker up for a chance which he put well wide of Steele's goal before he missed with a 26th minute right footed effort.
City came back on the half hour mark when Johnson and Hughes combined to feed McSheffrey who fired wide.
Four minutes later, Martin Butler won Rotherham a corner. Richard Shaw cleared this time up to Eddy Johnson who hit a tame effort which Pollitt dealt with.
Now the Millers who had won at Leicester and drawn with West Ham over the festive period and bottom of the table they were,but Ronnie Moore's team were starting to threaten more often and in the 38th minute,they took the lead.
Campbell-Ryce set up former Walsall striker Junior for a shot which Steele superbly saved with his legs for the first of two corners.
The second corner was taken by McLaren, knocked down by Chris Swailes inside the six yard box and with Steele,Williams and Rich Shaw all watching, Junior bundled the ball over the line from a couple of inches out.
That was it for the City supporters and chants of "Reid Out" intermingled with "Reid Sort It Out" and "Instant Success,You're Having A Laugh".
The team managed by Ronnie Moore who has seen more City reserve matches this season than Peter Reid continued to press and it was only thanks to the like of Eddy Johnson and Adie Williams getting their body in the way of shots that the damage was not more severe.
As referee Lee Mason blew the half-time whistle, some City supporters raced to the left hand of the Railway End stand to try and confrontate the City manager who was being flanked by a steward as he made his way to the dressing room, whilst others booed Reid and the players off the pitch.
Reid used the interval to make two changes and replaced Louis Carey and Stephen Hughes with Dean Leacock and Neil Wood. The appearance of both did not go down well with some of the City support and a chant of "You Don't Know What You're Doing" greeted the teams as they lined up for the second half.
The rain by now had reached torrential stage and there were chants of "Call it Off" as Adebola fired wide from an acute angle and Leacock conceded a corner at the other end.
For some reason,Rotherham were not playing with as much purpose as they had done in the first period and this allowed City's midfield to start to play.
In the 57th minute,Coventry were on level terms when Eddy Johnson did well to get over a cross which was met by Gary McSheffrey inside the penalty area at the far post. The Coventry kid superbly controlled the ball,before hitting a right footed drive. Pollitt dived but could only flap at it and Stern John nipped in between defender and keeper to bundle the ball into the net from a few inches out.
City's first goal at Millmoor since they were relegated sparked some raucous scenes in the away end of a ground that looks quite full with only 5,732 in it and lifted the players.
Adebola had a shot blocked in the 58th minute and a minute later,a long ball from McSheffrey found John who advanced towards the goal. Pollitt came out and took John and the ball. A mass shout of penalty went up from the City faithful but Mr Mason waved away our appeals.
Rotherham countered with Butler hitting a twenty yard drive which Steele dived to his right to push round for a corner and in the 67th minute,Campbell Ryce just missed the far post with an acute angled effort.
It had been a relatively clean game despite the conditions but when Barker threw himself over the legs of Neil Wood, the summer signing from Manchester United became the first caution of the game in the 69th minute.
Shaun Barker who misses the Millers next game at Millwall on Monday through suspension was replaced three minutes later by former Watford reserve Paolo Vernazza.
With fifteen minutes remaining, a high ball from Johnson was met by Stern John who got a touch on it before it was blocked for a corner by a covering defender.
Michael Doyle took the kick,Dean Leacock knocked the ball down and Adie Williams was on the goal-line to see the ball into the back of the net.
Williams and Doyle celebrated with the now jubilant crowd before getting on with the game.
City attacked in the 78th minute, when a lovely through ball from Johnson played in Stern John. The Trinidadian international danced round Mike Pollitt who slipped and then with the goal at his mercy. Stern John showed why many think he is a clown as he fell over and whilst on the floor,handled the ball in a bid to control it and was subsequently punished by the eagle eyed referee and his assistant in front of the Main Stand.
Rotherham won an 80th minute corner and replaced Junior with Will Hoskins as they looked to get back into the match.
This time, it was Luke Steele who was having a fine game and he remained firm to save an 88th minute effort from Vernazza.
Graham Barrett had stripped ready to be brought on in the 89th minute. However, a clash of heads between Williams and Giddings saw the Coventry kid require treatment and was replaced by Steve Staunton.
Steele managed to scramble a Campbell-Ryce shot away in the final seconds as City held on to record only their third away league victory of the season and keep Peter Reid in work for another few days.
HT RUFC 1-0 CCFC FT RUFC 1-2 CCFC
GOALS Junior (38 mins),
Stern John (57 mins)
Adie Williams (75 mins)
BOOKED Neil Wood
Man Of The Match - Jamal Campbell-Ryce was the best player on the pitch, Luke Steele and Eddy Johnson took the votes.
Steele,Carey (Leacock 46),Giddings (Staunton 89),Shaw, Williams,Johnson,Hughes (Wood 46),Doyle, McSheffrey,John, Adebola. SNU Shearer,Barrett