Rotherham United made it three wins in a row as two goals in two minutes helped them to a 2-1 victory over Bristol Rovers at the Memorial Stadium. Substitute Kayode Odejayi opened the scoring on the hour mark before Lee Frecklington doubled the lead, whilst Joe Anyinsah’s fine individual effort proved a mere consolation.
Manager Steve Evans was forced into one change for the lengthy trip to Gloucestershire with Daniel Nardiello travelling, but not making the 18 man squad. Kieran Agard took his place in the starting 11, with Craig Morgan starting on the bench; his first inclusion in the squad since getting injured in the victory over Cheltenham Town on November 17th.
An uneventful first 20 minutes saw the action flow from end to end with little in the way of clear cut chances. Kari Arnason had a shot blocked from distance, whilst it was the lovely Joe Anyinsah doing most of the running for the home side. The first real effort arrived 25 minutes in as John-Joe O’Toole collected the ball 25 yards from goal, and with a lack of options fired low, narrowly wide and into the side-netting, sending one half of the Memorial support into a temporary bout of celebration.
The Millers enjoyed more possession and should have been ahead 35 minutes in. After a magnificent claim by Andy Warrington, the ‘keeper picked out Alex Revell whose flick-on found Agard; the striker got a fine slice on the ball to feed the onrushing Frecklington who really should have done better when opting to lob the onrushing Steve Mildenhall.
Within a minute they could have been punished, but Mark McChrystal’s header at the far post was high and wide. The Millers responded however, and went on the attack with Danny Kearns collecting a ball in the centre circle and bursting forward in the 42nd minute. He eventually slid Agard in on the right who opted to square the ball rather than going alone and his final pass was beyond Revell.
BristolRovers 0-0 Millers
The second-half was just over a minute old when Warrington’s palms were stung. Out of nowhere, full-back Michael Smith fired goalwards from 25 yards, and his shot was destined for the bottom corner until the ‘keeper parried wide.
Meanwhile at the other end, David Noble fed Frecklington, now operating wide on the right of midfield who stood the ball up for half-time substitute Odejayi, but his powerful header was cleared off the line by McChrystal.
The home side had a spell of pressure, going close from two set-pieces just before the hour mark, but Agard’s run from his own area to that of the Gas soon took the pressure off. The Millers attacking play resulted in Arnason firing over from distance. However, Evans’ side didn’t have much longer to wait for the opening goal as they committed men forward and Revell found space on the right-hand side of the area; his shot wasn’t dealt with by Mildenhall who parried to the feet of Odejayi. The striker took a touch before showing the composure to pass the ball into the bottom corner.
Just two minutes later and the lead was doubled. Arnason’s hopeful ball into the box saw Odejayi this time turn provider, flicking-on to the far post where the previously quiet Frecklington half-volleyed into the top of the net from 10 yards out.
The Millers were soon reminded that it was far from game over, as a poor clearance from a free-kick landed at former Bristol City man David Clarkson’s feet. The forward volleyed goalwards and despite a double deflection taking it away from Warrington, the ‘keeper got down well to tip wide. Moments later, captain Tom Parkes fired over from a similar position.
A goal did eventually arrive as the clock ticked into the 82nd minute through Anyinsah. The attacker is proving to enjoy the meetings between the two sides as this was his third goal in four games. He collected the ball on the corner of the area, before stepping inside and firing across Warrington into the bottom corner to bring the home side back into the game with just eight minutes to go.
With time ticking, a Millers attack was half-cleared and Johnny Mullins’ knock back into the box was flicked on by Odejayi for Revell running in behind who was denied by a wonderful last ditch tackle by Parkes.
BristolRovers 1-2 Millers
BristolRovers: Mildenhall, Smith, Parkes, McChrystal, Brown, Clucas, Norburn (Hitchcock 68), O’Toole, Anyinsah, Brunt (Clarkson HT), Broghammer (Richards 15).
Unused: Gough, Woodards, Harrison, McDonald.
Millers: Warrington, Bradley, Davis, Mullins, Ridehalgh, Frecklington, Arnason, Noble (Cameron 78), Kearns (Odejayi HT), Revell (Slew 89), Agard.
Unused: Thompson, Tonge, Pringle, Morgan.
Att: 8646 (334)