Walsall 1-2 Rotherham United Player Ratings: Moore’s impact

Ball scored the winner – blackpoolgazette.co.uk

David Ball’s second half winner gave Rotherham United a 2-1 victory at Walsall, after Joe Edwards had cancelled out Semi Ajayi’s first-minute opener for the visitors. Here’s our Player Ratings on a deserved away win.

The Saddlers

Mark Gillespie – his distribution left a lot to be desired and might have been more commanding for both goals. 3

Nicky Devlin – a very nice crossfield pass to Leahy in the build-up to the equalizer. Suspect positioning on one or two occasions though. 4
Kory Roberts – looked a little timid at times, which is understandable given his relative lack of experience at this level. Needed too much support from the midfield. 3
Jon Guthrie – bailed out by Chambers and Edwards sometimes and his use of the ball could have been better. Did well to put off Moore for his back-post header but it was a tough afternoon for him. 4
Luke Leahy – put in an excellent right-footed cross for the equalizer. Spent a lot of the first half stuck in his defensive third when he perhaps should have been further up the pitch, although he could have contributed more when Walsall needed a goal in that last half hour. 5

Zeli Ismail – arguably the home side’s liveliest performer. Beat the full-back to create for Jackson’s big chance, although he could have attacked the byline more often, rather than cut inside as he tended to do in the first half. 6
Adam Chambers – did some good covering work in the defensive third and that was essential to the protection for the two centre-backs, but his declining legs at 37 meant he couldn’t help sustain pressure higher up the pitch. That issue can stop his teammates getting into the right areas. 3
Joe Edwards – arguably Walsall’s best player in the first half, doing his defensive duties whilst getting into the goalscoring positions. He did the latter for the equalizer to head home on 12 minutes, before having a firm snapshot shortly afterwards that was straight at Rodak. 5
Kieron Morris – one or two moments of bright movement, combining with Oztumer for a back-post opening once in the first half. His afternoon though was ultimately lacking in product and was rightly cut short on the hour mark. 3

Erhun Oztumer – looked a threat at times in the first half when Walsall played to feet and he had runners either side of him, but his lack of pace and strength hindered him when in isolation. Should have scored with his left footed effort into the side netting on 40 minutes. 4
Daniel Agyei – for much of the first half, Walsall perhaps over-estimated his athleticism, wrongly thinking he could single-handedly get the better of the two centre-backs when the ball is hoofed vaguely in his direction. Played a good pass into Oztumer for that big chance just before the break but on another occasion, he slipped at the crucial moment. 3

Maz Kouhyar (on 61) – his left-sided partnership with Leahy didn’t quite come to fruition in the last half hour. 4
Simeon Jackson (on 68) – briefly occupied centre-backs and possibly could have scored from close-range shortly after coming on, but his influence on the game wasn’t a long-lasting or telling one. 6
Mitch Candlin (on 85)

The Millers

Marek Rodak – did well to save from Jackson in the second half from point-blank range and did all the bread and butter work required of him. Could not have done too much about the goal. 7

Josh Emmanuel – didn’t get forward too much, but played a part in the winner with his good cross to the back-post and kept Morris then later Kouhyar quiet. 7
Will Vaulks – didn’t look out of place, despite the midfielder by trade starting just his third game at centre-back for Rotherham. Moved into a more natural position when Wood came on. 7
Semi Ajayi – scrambled home the opener within a minute of kick-off and certainly posed a threat in the opposing box. Previously guilty of over-playing in the wrong areas but that wasn’t in evidence here. 8
Joe Mattock – one or two moments on the transitional phases when Williams recovered the left-back position quicker than he did. That isn’t ideal, given that Mattock didn’t offer too much going forward. Booked late on for a cynical foul on Ismail. 5

Anthony Forde – had his moments on his return to the Black Country. Forced a save from Gillespie with his firm, tight-angled 36th-minute free-kick and went on some decent runs down the right, without being a constant influence. 6
Lee Frecklington – bagged a hat-trick against the Saddlers in the reverse fixture but his only shot on this occasion was deflected behind on 41 minutes. Battled reasonably well in midfield. 6
Richie Towell – did a lot of the dirty work, breaking up attacks. Not the most technically refined performance in the world – his first half shot that nearly went out for a corner saw to that – but the ex-Brighton man gave his side a base from which to build. 7
Ryan Williams – his defensive diligence caught the eye in the first half more than his attacking contributions, but he grew in influence after the break. Put in a good ball in for Moore’s back-post header and, but for Gillespie, he could have made the game save in a breakaway move in the closing stages. 7

Jerry Yates – pressed from the front with typical energy but didn’t provide much of a goal threat. Taken off at half-time. 5
David Ball – key to Rotherham’s impressive start, teeing up Ajayi for the opener within a minute, shortly after seeing his own shot blocked. Faded for a spell but came alive again in the second half, prodding home the winner from close-range just before the hour mark. 8

Kieffer Moore (on 45) – occupied the centre-backs better than Yates and provided a real aerial threat. We saw a glimpse of that with his back-post header that found the side-netting, before knocking down Emmanuel’s cross for Ball to prod home. 9
Richard Wood (on 63) – his organisational qualities came to the fore in the latter stages. 8
Joe Newell (on 90)