Super-sub Daniel Nardiello preserved Rotherham United’s unbeaten record as they fought back twice to earn a share of the spoils against Shrewsbury Town.
Despite a below-par display, Steve Evans’ men showed great character to peg back the Shropshire outfit thanks to goals from Alex Revell and Nardiello after falling behind either side of the interval but the ex-Barnsley strikers’ afternoon turned sour when he was shown the red card after the final whistle seemingly for dissent.
Following their first league victory of the campaign at Crawley Town, Evans kept faith with his starting line-up against the Shrews with the only change being an enforced one with David Noble lining up amongst the substitutes’ at the expense of last week’s matchwinner David Worrall, who was absent because of a groin injury.
The Millers’ almost made the perfect start after just forty seconds when Kari Arnason’s long-throw was only half-cleared by a visitors’ defender and Lee Frecklington fired a fierce effort through a ruck of bodies which had Chris Weale scurrying across goal but the ball rattled the side netting.
In their first foray of note, Shrewsbury stunned the home faithful by taking the lead on 21 minutes following a fine flowing move.
Following a switch of play, Jon Taylor made good yards on the right flank despite being crowded out by a host of retreating home defenders.
However, Taylor emerged with possession and following interplay involving Aaron Wildig and Luke Summerfield, an inviting pass put Paul Parry in the clear on the right, who floated a tantalising cross which saw Taylor power a downward header which beat the outstretched hand of Scott Shearer before nestling in the bottom corner of the goal.
The home side rallied strongly and Arnason looped a header over the bar following Ben Pringle’s free-kick before Alex Revell ghosted away from his marker to meet an Arnason delivery minutes later but his bullet header whistled wide of the target.
With half an hour on the clock, Matt Tubbs pounced on a loose ball before playing the ball into the path of Kieran Agard on the edge of the box, who worked a shooting position to strike a drilled effort which forced Weale into a smart save.
At the other end, Arnason dallied in possession and the visitors’ almost capitalised but Taylor failed to control the ball giving Shearer the chance to snuff out the danger.
Minutes later, Taylor won a foot race with Joe Skarz to advance menacingly into the box and although his cross was half-cleared the ball fell invitingly into the path of Parry, who fired a low effort which fizzed past the upright.
The lively Taylor was tormenting the home backline and after Rotherham failed to clear decisively, he picked up possession before curling a rising effort which forced Shearer into an acrobatic save.
With half-time approaching, skipper Craig Morgan was yellow-carded for needlessly tugging the shirt of Tom Bradshaw near the left touchline before Michael O’Connor drilled a low effort which failed to trouble Weale moments later.
Half-time:- Rotherham United 0 Shrewsbury Town 1
With the words of Evans’ ringing in their ears, the Millers’ started the second stanza with a positive intent and Revell was inches away from meeting a tantalising delivery from Pringle before the Rotherham hitman cushioned a Skarz cross into the path of Agard, who failed to control the ball despite having the goal at his mercy.
At the other end, Skarz failed to clear decisively and following ping-pong in and around the box, the ball fell invitingly in the path of Bradshaw, whose dribbled effort was finding the bottom corner until Shearer’s late intervention.
The Millers’ were thankful to their ‘keeper minutes later when they drew themselves on level terms.
A long punt forward was latched upon by Tubbs, who calmly played a slide-rule pass into the advancing run of Revell, who struck a fantastic first-time effort from the edge of the box which arrowed past the despairing dive of Weale before nestling into the far corner of the goal.
However, Rotherham’s joy was short-lived as the Shrews regained the lead on 62 minutes against the run of play.
Again Taylor was the architect when his mazy run had the Millers’ backtracking to the edge of the box paving the way for Summerfield to curl an effort through a ruck of bodies which was saved by Shearer but to the home sides’ anguish, the ball fell into the path of Bradshaw, who calmly stroked the ball into the empty net from six yards.
The setback saw Evans’ immediately make a double substitution and the home supremo was rewarded when one of his changes, Nardiello made an immediate impact.
After Ryan Woods was penalised on the left flank, Pringle delivered a superb centre which saw Nardiello ghost away from his marker before planting a header seemingly down the throat of Weale but the ball squirmed under the body of the Shrews’ ‘keeper before dribbling over the line to the delight of the home faithful.
With the game in the balance, Taylor comically saw yellow for time-wasting as he changed his footwear near the visitors’ dug-out before Pringle fired a superb low effort from the edge of the box which forced Weale into a flying save as the home side pressed for a winner.
Mark Bradley was the next to threaten the visitors’ goal when he fizzed a low effort from distance narrowly wide of the target as he latched onto a Morgan knockdown before the drama continued after the final whistle when Nardiello saw red after being showed successive yellow cards seemingly both for dissent in a matter of minutes as he invoked the anger of referee Dean Whitestone either side of the conclusion of the game.
Full-time:- Rotherham United 2 Shrewsbury Town 2
Millers - Shearer, Bradley, Morgan, Arnason, Skarz, Agard (Milsom 66), O’Connor, Frecklington, Pringle, Revell, Tubbs (Nardiello 66). Unused:- Collin, Brindley, Davis, Noble, Tidser.
Shrewsbury- Weale, Jacobson, Summerfield, Jones, Bradshaw, Taylor, Wildig, Parry (McAllister 87) Goldson, Woods, Reach. Unused:- Anyon, McQuade, Burke, Anderson.
Referee:- Dean Whitestone
Attendance:- 7234 (428)