Rotherham United’s unbeaten start to their League One campaign was ended by high-flying Peterborough despite a brave effort from the Millers.
In an enthralling encounter, the home side tasted defeat for the first time this season when Grant McCann slotted home the decisive penalty early in the second half after Kari Arnason was penalised for handball.
Following their hard-fought draw at Walsall last weekend, Steve Evans made just one change to his starting line-up with Mark Bradley replacing Richard Brindley at full-back as Lee Frecklington and Craig Morgan faced their former club.
For the visitors, one-time Millers’ target Britt Assombalonga was partnered upfront by highly-rated Tyrone Barnett as former Rotherham loanee Daniel Kearns was handed a place amongst the Posh substitutes.
The visitors were quick out of the blocks and Paul Taylor’s mazy run had the home side at sixes and sevens but he was unable to get his shot away before Assombalonga headed over from McCann’s inswinging centre moments later.
Kieran Agard had the home side’s first sight of goal when he smartly controlled a high pass before bursting past Gabriel Zakuani on the edge of the box but he fired well wide of the target from an acute angle.
Moments later, fine interplay gave Ben Pringle a shooting opportunity just outside the box and he drilled a low effort through a ruck of bodies which rolled tantalisingly wide of the upright.
The Millers were finding their rhythm and Pringle fizzed a free-kick which narrowly evaded the home runners but had Robert Olejnik nervously scurrying across goal as it whistled past the post.
At the other end, clever footwork by Barnett had the home side backtracking and Assombalonga jinked past his marker before firing a rising effort which blazed over the bar.
With the game finely balanced, Frecklington had a snap shot which was deflected into the hands of Olejnik before Agard stung the palms of the visitors ‘keeper in the next phase of play with a low drive from the edge of the box.
Just shy of the half-hour, Arnason and Bradley combined well to see the latter float an outswinging centre which was met by the head of Pringle but he couldn't control his header before the Millers wasted an opportunity to break the deadlock ten minutes before the break.
Agard fought hard to win possession before Frecklington found Rob Milsom, who struck a fearsome effort which forced Olejnik into taking evasive action but the ball rebounded to Nardiello, who spooned the rebound over the bar despite having the goal at his mercy, although it was unclear if the assistant referee would have flagged for offside if the ball had hit the net.
Milsom was again in the thick of the action moments later when Agard found the ex-Aberdeen midfielder in space and he fired a superb effort which a motionless Olejnik watched fly past the post.
With half-time approaching, Frecklington saw yellow for a late challenge on Taylor before Olejnik failed to punch clear from a Pringle corner and the ball pinged around the visitors’ box before Bradley smashed a goalbound effort which was deflected behind.
In first half-stoppage time, Frecklington delivered a tantalising cross which saw Nardiello headed into the path of Revell, who failed to control the ball despite being unmarked in the six-yard box.
Half-time:- Rotherham United 0 Peterborough United 0
Following the restart, the home side continued to press and following quick passing involving Milsom and Frecklington, Pringle delivered a superb centre which amazingly missed the onrushing Agard, who had the goal at his mercy.
At the other end, Joe Skarz and Scott Shearer got in a mix from a McCann corner and the Rotherham defender inavertedly headed the ball just past the upright.
The visitors made the Millers pay from the following corner from McCann when Arnason raised his hands in the box under pressure from a visitors attacker and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot despite the Icelandic international claiming he was nudged onto the ball.
McCann then kept his nerve from the spot following a long delay to calmly wrongfoot Shearer by stroking the ball into the corner of the goal.
Taylor then blasted over from distance before Bradley wasted a glorious opportunity to put the Millers back on level terms when he ghosted in unmarked at the far post to meet an inswinging Pringle free-kick but he headed wide of the target when it looked easier to score.
Milsom then found himself in the referee’s book for halting McCann in his tracks as the visitors launched a counter-attack before the villain almost turned hero moments later when he advanced with menace to the edge of the box before drilling a low effort which had Olejnik sprawling across his goal but the ball narrowly evaded the upright.
The Millers were putting the Posh on the backfoot and Bradley fizzed a deep centre which found Skarz unmarked at the back post but the ex-Bury defender fluffed his lines when he scuffed an effort into the side netting.
The home side were sniffing blood and Pringle floated a cross which had Olejnik backtracking nervously and after he failed to clear decisively, Revell and Nardiello got in each other’s way with neither able to turn the ball goalwards from point-blank range.
In a rare foray from the visitors, Taylor pounced on a loose ball on the edge of the box after Rotherham failed to clear but Shearer showed good reflexes to block his goalbound effort.
With time running out, Pringle fizzed a low free-kick around the visitors’ wall but the ball whistled past the post before Assombalonga almost doubled the visitors’ advantage when he brushed aside the attentions of Bradley and Arnason but Shearer was on-hand to snuff out the danger.
The Millers were given hope with five minutes of stoppage time declared but their luck was summed up when Pringle’s outswinger was headed down by sub Tom Eaves but Bradley blazed over from just inside the six yard box despite looking a certain scorer.
Full-time:- Rotherham United 0 Peterborough United 1
Millers- Shearer, Bradley, Morgan, Arnason, Skarz (Eaves 85), Agard (Tubbs 78), Frecklington, Milsom, Pringle, Revell, Nardiello. Unused:- Collin, Brindley, Mills, Tidser, Rowe.
Peterborough:- Olejnik, Alcock, Rowe, Zakuani, Bostwick, Payne, McCann, Swanson (Kearns 64), Taylor (Newell 77), Assombalonga, Barnett. Unused:- Day, Ntlhe, Brisley, Ferdinand, Mendez-Laing.
Attendance:- 9717 (1503).