TOM Adeyemi was the Millers hero as his seventh goal of the season earned Rotherham United their first victory since mid-January at the expense of Ipswich Town.
Top-scorer Danny Ward had a first-half penalty saved by Dean Gerken but Adeyemi spared his blushes with a well-executed volley with 11 minutes to go to give Millers boss Paul Warne his first win since taking permanent charge.
Following their hard-working display at Reading on Easter Monday, Warne kept faith with his starting line-up for the visit of Mick McCarthy’s side.
There were a couple of familiar faces in the Tractor Boys’ squad as one-time Millers loanee Toumani Diagouraga was handed a starting berth while substitute Grant Ward returned to the AESSEAL New York Stadium following his season-long loan, last season.
Following a low-key start by both sides, the Millers had an opportunity to break the deadlock with their first foray of note on eight minutes.
Following a hopeful punt by Richie Smallwood, Ward got the better of a tussle with Luke Chambers and although the Ipswich skipper managed to get a last-ditch block on his strike, the ball looped into the path of Jon Taylor, who was bundled over by Josh Emmanuel in the box, as he looked to shoot, and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
From the resultant penalty, Ward calmly strode to the ball before firing low to his right but Gerken correctly guessed his intentions and with a strong hand, the Ipswich ‘keeper managed to parry the ball to safety.
Despite the penalty miss, the Millers had started the game the stronger and fine approach play by Ward and Carlton Morris presented Taylor, with the opportunity to strike, from just inside the box, but his tame effort was straight down the throat of Gerken.
Minutes later, Semi Ajayi’s arrowed ball forward skimmed off the turf as Ward had to be at full stretch as he fired into the side netting before Emmanuel had to be on his toes to snuff out Will Vaulks’ cross with Taylor lurking at the far post.
In the next phase of play, Gerken’s punched at thin air but Tommy Smith spared his blushes with a timely header before both Smith and Chambers put their bodies on the line to block Tom Adeyemi and Ajayi efforts, within a matter of seconds.
Minutes later, Taylor’s slide-rule pass gave Morris the opportunity to ghost inside before curling an effort which was blocked en-route to goal by Chambers. From the resultant corner, Taylor swung a tantalising centre which narrowly evaded the attentions of both Ward and Wood, who would have had a tap-in, if he had made a clean connection at the far post.
Just past the half hour mark, Adeyemi blazed a long-range effort harmlessly over following Morris’s lay-off before Ipswich almost stunned the home faithful with their first attacking intention of the half when Danny Rowe injected pace into a visitors move before firing a stinging shot which stung the palms of Richard O’Donnell before Dominic Samuel pounced on the loose ball to drill an effort from an acute angle, which smashed against the woodwork before bouncing to safety.
Moments later, Taylor’s fortuitous cross fell kindly for Adeyemi, but his weak point-blank header failed to trouble Gerken before Brett Pitman’s cross-cum-shot, at the other end, floated harmlessly wide of the Millers goal.
In the last action of the half, the Millers suffered a blow as Ward made a run into the channel, before pulling-up with a suspected hamstring tear, and Rotherham’s top-scorer failed to return after the break.
Half-time- Rotherham United 0 Ipswich Town 0
Following the break, Ipswich had the first sight of goal when Samuel picked the ball up with his back to goal before drilling a low effort from distance, which took a slight deflection off Pitman, as it harmlessly whistled past the home goal.
The Millers were forced into a further reshuffle, just ten minutes into the half, when Ajayi, who was seemingly struggling to shake off a muscle injury sustained in the first-half, was replaced by Anthony Forde, and Vaulks was forced into an unfamiliar centre-half role.
Minutes later, Taylor’s free-kick was nodded on by Adeyemi as Vaulks ghosted in at the far post to scuff the ball into the side netting before the ex-Falkirk midfielder was caught underneath the ball following a hopeful ball forward but Pitman failed to punish him as his attempted lob was parried to safety by O’Donnell.
O’Donnell almost went from hero to villain as he spilled Rowe’s floated free-kick but the Rotherham stopper redeemed himself by diverting Diagouraga’s goalbound effort to safety.
There was a moment of controversy when Morris’ floated ball was headed back across goal by Adeyemi and with Ipswich struggling to clear, sub Alex Bray seemed to lose his footing under the challenge of Chambers in the box, and despite few appeals for a spot-kick, the referee booked the ex-Swansea winger for simulation.
Minutes later, Rowe was in the thick of the action as he firstly tried his luck with a snap shot but Darnell Fisher blocked his effort en-route to goal before he steadied himself, on the edge of the box, in Ipswich’s next attack, to curl an effort which shaved the home upright.
The home side had a scare when a ball into the channel paved the way for sub Kieffer Moore to deliver a delicious centre which saw Fisher and Samuel tangle in the six-yard box, as the ball was diverted just wide of the target.
Moments later, Taylor’s wicked centre was hacked over his own bar by Tommy Smith before Joe Mattock deservedly saw yellow for a scything tackle near the touchline.
With the game in the balance, Rotherham came within a whisker of the breakthrough when two of their substitutes combined when Forde’s delightful centre saw Jonson Clarke-Harris nod towards goal but the ball brushed a retreating defender as it flashed narrowly wide.
However, Ipswich failed to heed the warning as Rotherham scored the decisive winner when Fisher’s punt upfield was not dealt with decisively by the visitors’ rearguard and the ball ricocheted off a retreating defender into the path of Adeyemi, who kept his nerve to volley into the heart of the Ipswich goal giving Gerken no chance.
However, Rotherham joy almost proved short-lived as Moore rose highest from a corner to head towards goal but Fisher hacked clear from his own line before Samuel latched onto Emmanuel’s centre to fire an effort which brought a superb, reflex save from O’Donnell.
In the dying minutes, Rotherham squandered a couple of opportunities to breathe easier when Taylor blasted over from a promising position before Forde worked a shooting opportunity to curl an effort which whistled past the Ipswich goal.
In the last action of the game, Clarke-Harris fired a free-kick over before the referee brought the game to an end- which brought acclaim from the AESSEAL New York Stadium for the home players.
Full-time- Rotherham United 1 Ipswich Town 0
Rotherham United 1
Ipswich Town 0
Teams:- Rotherham- O’Donnell, Mattock, Vaulks, Wood, D Ward (Bray 46), Morris (Clarke-Harris 71), Taylor, Ajayi (Forde 53), Fisher, Adeyemi, Smallwood. Unused- Price, Newell, Belaid, Purrington.
Ipswich- Gerken, Chambers, Smith, Bishop (Moore 63), Pitman, Dozzell, Emmanuel, Kenlock, Rowe (Sears 85), Diagouraga (Bru 75), Samuel. Unused- Bialkowski, Skuse, Digby, G Ward.
Referee- J Simpson
Attendance- 8266 (704).