ROTHERHAM UNITED made the perfect start to life at their new New York Stadium home as they cruised to a comfortable 3-0 victory over ten man Burton Albion.
Early strikes from new signings Daniel Nardiello (pen) and Kayode Odeyadi put the Millers in charge and after withstanding first-half pressure from the Brewers, the dismissal of Lee Bell eased the home nerves before Ben Pringle sealed victory in their first competitive game at NYS with fifteen minutes remaining.
Buoyed by a superb atmosphere, the Millers’ started with a positive intent and they made a fairytale start to life in their new home when they opened the scoring after just four minutes.
Following clever interplay between Michael O’Connor and David Noble, Daniel Nardiello surged into the box but he was clumsily ankle-tapped by Zander Diamond and referee Paul Tierney had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
From the resultant penalty, Nardiello kept his composure to coolly wrongfoot Ross Atkins and slide the ball into the bottom corner of the goal.
The home side were buoyed by the breakthrough and it was no surprise when they doubled their advantage after 12 minutes.
Following a period of pressure, Kari Arnason hurled a long-throw into the box and as Atkins failed to clear decisively, Ben Pringle stabbed the ball goalwards and the ball spun invitingly into the path of Kayode Odejayi , who calmly nodded the ball home from six yards despite the presence of a retreating Burton defender on the goalline.
The visitors were looking for a foothold in the proceedings and Lee Bell’s clipped ball saw Billy Kee lay the ball invitingly into the path of Adi Yussuf, but as he looked a certain scorer, Michael O’Connor launched a superb last-ditch tackle which saw Yussuf screw his shot over the bar from point-blank range.
Minutes later, Bell’s superbly floated free-kick saw Diamond ghost in-between the on-rushing Scott Shearer and the Millers’ backline but to the relief of the home faithful, his glancing header rolled tantalisingly wide of the target.
The visitors then came within a whisker of reducing the arrears when Cleveland Taylor got a yard on Laurence Wilson before swinging an inviting centre which saw Yussuf get infront of Arnason, but his deft flick flew narrowly wide of the upright with Shearer a helpless bystander.
Minutes later, Michael O’Connor was yellow carded for a lunge on Robbie Weir before the Millers almost added a third with half-an-hour on the clock.
A forward header from Johnny Mullins fell invitingly into the path of Nardiello, who skipped past Anthony O’Connor with a minimum of fuss before standing a superb cross from the by-line which saw Odejayi power a header but it flashed narrowly over the bar.
At the other end, Kee stung the palms of Shearer with a snap shot from an acute angle before Anthony O’Connor’s surging run left a number of Millers’ defenders in his wake before he squared a tantalising centre which narrowly evaded the onrushing visiting forwards.
Half-time: Rotherham United 2 Burton Albion
With Mark Bradley replacing Mullins at the half-time interval after the ex-Stockport County defender took a knock prior to half-time, the Millers’ were forced to reshuffle their backline at the start of the second stanza.
Just minutes into the half, Nardiello had a nasty collision with Weir, which led to a temporary halt to the proceedings but from the resultant free-kick, Michael O’Connor swung a superb centre which narrowly evaded the head of Ian Sharps before being smartly gathered by Atkins.
Minutes later, Pringle floated a delightful corner which was flicked on by Jason Taylor at the front post but the ball was agonisingly swiped off the head of Nardiello, as he looked to head goalwards.
Bell was then yellow carded as he failed to atone for his initial mistake as he cynically hauled down Pringle in full flight.
The ex-Crewe Alexandra midfielder then compounded the error as with the red mist still apparent, his late lunge on David Noble in the next phase of play saw the referee brandish the yellow card for the second time in as many minutes to leave Albion down to ten men.
The Millers’ were looking to capitalise on their numerical advantage when Pringle slashed a long cross which fell into the path of Michael O’Connor, who fired a fierce drive which saw Atkins parry the ball to safety.
In a swift counter-attack, Pringle released Odejayi, who ignored Nardiello at the side of him, to strike a low drive which Atkins smothered with his legs before Nardiello was inches away from being put clear following a through ball from Jason Taylor.
Then, after Pringle was nudged over by Weir just outside the box, from the following free-kick, Noble swung a delightful effort which grazed the upright with Atkins at full stretch.
The Millers’ were rewarded for their pressure as they sealed the encounter with their third with fifteen minutes remaining.
There looked little danger as Pringle picked up possession on the by-line but he tormented Anthony O’Connor to force himself into the box before striking an effort which O’Connor attempted to block but the ball looped over the head of Atkins before nestling into the far corner.
With full-time approaching, Nardiello was snuffed out by Atkins following a flowing move before sub Justin Richards almost added a late consolation but his header blazed over from Damien McCrory’s inswinging centre.
Sub Alex Revell almost added a superb fourth as he cut inside from the left before unleashing a rasping drive which was arrowing into the top-corner until Atkins’ late intervention before Wilson almost put the icing on the cake but his curling effort sailed narrowly over the bar.
Full-time: Rotherham United 3 Burton Albion 0
Rotherham United: Shearer, Mullins (Bradley 45), Arnason, Sharps, Wilson, Noble, J Taylor, M O’Connor (Ainsworth 65), Pringle, Odejayi, Nardiello (Revell 84). Subs:- Warrington, Rose, Evans, Agard
Burton Albion: Atkins, Stanton, McCrory, Diamond, A O’Connor, C Taylor (Dyer 62), Weir, Maghoma, Bell, Kee (Patterson 76), Yussuf (Richards 62). Subs:- Lyness, Corbett, Webster, Palmer.
Words: Chris Jackson