ACADEMY product Jerry Yates had a Millers debut to remember as his early goal set the Millers on their way to an impressive 2-1 victory over Norwich City.
The Millers had the perfect start with Yates’ well-taken strike before Norwich were reduced to 10 men when Nelson Oliveira saw red following a clash with Kirk Broadfoot.
Sub Cameron Jerome leveled matters early in the second half for the Canaries but the Millers regained the lead almost immediately when Tom Adeyemi came back to haunt his former club as he headed home from Joe Mattock’s delicious centre for the winning goal.
Following their FA Cup exit at the hands of Oxford United last time out, the Millers made two changes to their starting line-up for the visit of the Canaries.
Richie Smallwood returned to the home engine room just days after he was recalled from his loan stint at Scunthorpe United while youngster Yates was rewarded for his impressive substitute cameo against the U’s with a starting place as last week’s front pairing of top-scorer Danny Ward and Dexter Blackstock were unavailable because of injury.
The visitors were quick out of the blocks and the Millers were indebted to Darnell Fisher for hacking clear near his own line in the early minutes after Steven Naismith had drilled a fierce centre across the face of goal following good work by Wes Hoolahan.
At the other end, Anthony Forde’s slide rule pass gave Joe Newell the opportunity to strike goalwards but Norwich skipper Russell Martin threw his body in the way of his shot before Will Vaulks’ bullet throw into the box saw home captain Broadfoot rise highest but his downward header was straight down the throat of John Ruddy.
However, Norwich failed to heed the warning as Rotherham broke the deadlock on seven minutes.
An innocuous ball into the channel saw Adeyemi get on the wrong side of the Norwich rearguard and the Cardiff loanee kept his nerve to slide a perfectly weighted pass across the box and into the path of the advancing Yates, who calmly stroked the ball into the corner of the visitors goal giving Ruddy no chance.
The home side were lifted by the opener and fine foraging from Smallwood on halfway paved the way for Adeyemi to try his luck from distance but his effort was deflected wide by Martin.
The visitors were visibly rattled by the Millers’ strong start and the home side’s hopes of victory were given a further boost on 18 minutes when Norwich were reduced to ten men.
After Mattock snuffed out Jacob Murphy’s menacing run, Murphy swung over the resultant corner into the box and with both Broadfoot and Oliveira tumbling in the box, the Portuguese striker appeared to lash out at the Millers defender as they both looked to regain their footing and the referee had no hesitation in brandishing the red card to the Norwich frontman.
The visitors’ frustration boiled over once again when Hoolahan was yellow-carded for dissent after a free-kick award went Rotherham’s way following a tangle between Fisher and sub Jerome.
Hoolahan was in the thick of the action and following a long-bursting run and pass from the Irishman, Jerome looked set to take aim towards goal but a timely tackle from Richard Wood prevented him shooting goalwards.
Just past the half-hour mark, the Millers came close to doubling their advantage when Vaulks curled a delightful ball across the Norwich rearguard and Wood ghosted in almost unnoticed to blaze over from point-blank range but the Rotherham centre-halves’ blushes were spared by the offside flag.
Moments later, Hoolahan’s defence splitting pass saw Steven Whittaker fizz a tantalising ball into the box which was inches away from the run of Jerome, who protested he was pulled back by a retreating home defender before Vaulks became the latest to see yellow for kicking the ball away.
The Millers had a let off on the stroke of half-time when Jerome sped past the attentions of Broadfoot to clip an inviting centre to the far stick which saw Murphy head goalwards but Price somehow managed to keep his effort out before the ball fell to Timm Klose, who looked a certain scorer but his stab goalwards was cleared by Mattock from his own goal line.
In the last action of the half, Naismith became the latest to incur the wrath of the referee as he was cautioned for dissent.
Half-time- Rotherham United 1 Norwich City 0
There was a moment of controversy at the start of the second half when Alex Tettey’s clip over the top prompted havoc in the Rotherham defence and with no-one taking charge, Jerome looked to have nipped in before Price, but the Norwich substitute had used his hand to get the advantage, which saw him yellow-carded for deliberate handball.
The ex-Birmingham City forward went from villain to hero, minutes later, as Hoolahan teased and tormented his marker just inside the box before delivering a superb centre which bisected both the Rotherham defence and Price and Jerome was the grateful recipient as he got on the wrong side of his marker to head home from close range.
However, Norwich’s joy proved short lived as Rotherham regained the lead just minutes later.
Newell and Mattock again combined to great effect down the left-flank which saw the Rotherham full-back skip to the by line to deliver a fantastic centre which saw Adeyemi ghost in-between two defenders to power a header from just inside the six-yard box which beat the outstretched hand of Ruddy to nestle in the heart of the visitors goal.
In a whirlwind start to the second half, Ivo Pinto’s ball to the far stick saw Jerome volley goalwards but Price smartly smothered his low effort before Forde fired a left-footed effort through a ruck of bodies which stung the palms of Ruddy at the other end.
Just past the hour mark, Forde struck a deep corner to the far post which found Broadfoot in acres of space but the Scotsman’s downward header was straight down the throat of Ruddy before Hoolahan’s assist paved the way for Jacob Murphy, to plant an effort into the far corner of the Rotherham goal but his joy was curtailed by the offside flag.
The Millers came within inches of giving themselves some much-needed breathing space when Vaulks’ punt forward was controlled superbly by Adeyemi, whose measured ball into the box looked inch-perfect for Yates, who bundled the ball towards goal from close range but agonisingly for the home side, his effort flew the wrong side of the visitors’ upright.
Minutes later, Forde and Fisher superbly exchanged passes which saw the former dart into the Norwich box to drill a low effort which was saved by the legs of Ruddy before sub Jon Taylor became the latest player to test the England ‘keeper with an angled drive.
Taylor almost put the game beyond the Norfolk side when Vaulks’ daisycutter was spilled by Ruddy and Yates was the quickest to react to clip a cross which was headed towards goal by Taylor but Martin was well-stationed on his own line to head clear from underneath his own crossbar.
With the game in the balance, Fisher blazed an effort wide before Broadfoot showed his powers of recovery by denying Whittaker with a timely tackle, before his fellow countryman could get his shot away.
In the dying minutes, sub Alex Pritchard’s driven free-kick saw Jerome ghost away from his marker but he was unable to direct his effort towards the Rotherham goal before Klose fluffed his lines with a wayward shot, in the Canaries’ last attack of note.
The final whistle brought scenes of delirium from the home faithful as Paul Warne celebrated victory over his hometown team just days after being announced as Rotherham manager until the end of the season.
Full-time- Rotherham United 2 Norwich City 1
Rotherham United 2
Norwich City 1
Teams:- Rotherham- Price, Mattock, Vaulks, Broadfoot, Wood, Forde, Fisher, Newell (Taylor 69), Adeyemi, Smallwood, Yates. Unused- Bilboe, Kelly, Wilson, Dawson, Belaïd, Bailey.
Norwich- Ruddy, Whittaker, Martin, Naismith, Howson (Jerome 24), Oliveira, Hoolahan, Klose, Jacob Murphy (Pritchard 69), Pinto, Tettey (Lafferty 80). Unused- McGovern, Bassong, Bennett, Josh Murphy.
Attendance- 10000 (1609).