ROTHERHAM UNITED had to settle for a share of the spoils as they were frustrated by ten-man Carlisle United.
The Millers were denied the opportunity to notch back-to-back league wins against the resolute Cumbrians despite dominating the second period after Connor Townsend was sent-off for two bookable offences at the end of the first half.
Following their handsome victory over Stevenage last weekend, the Millers made just one change to their starting line-up with Kari Arnason returning at the heart of the home rearguard following his World Cup play-off exploits with Iceland at the expense of Claude Davis, who had to settle for a place on the substitutes’ bench.
New signing Nouha Dicko was also named in the Rotherham squad after he put pen to paper on a loan deal from Wigan Athletic on Wednesday while the visitors fielded ex-Premiership star Pascal Chimbonda amongst their starting XI.
The home side were quick out of the blocks and Arnason’s floated ball was superbly controlled by Matt Tubbs, whose smart lay-off paved the way for Kieran Agard to unleash a fantastic left-footed strike from distance which had Ben Amos frantically scurrying across goal but the ball whistled narrowly past the upright.
Minutes later, Alex Revell failed to connect with an acrobatic effort following clever interplay involving Tubbs before Carlisle had their first sight of goal when Liam Noble combined smartly with Lee Miller before the former drilled a low effort from distance which failed to trouble Adam Collin.
The home side were looking the most likely and after Max Ehmer was penalised for climbing over Revell, Michael O’Connor played a quick free-kick into the path of Ben Pringle, who fizzed a fierce effort through a ruck of bodies but Manchester United ‘keeper Amos kept his nerve to smother the ball with his body.
Just shy of the half hour, Amos was again on-hand to diffuse a dangerous Pringle free-kick with a minimum of fuss before O’Connor fired a snap shot which was arrowing towards goal moments later but the ball inadvertently struck Craig Morgan en-route to goal.
However, the visitors almost stunned the home faithful when a quickly taken free-kick caught the Millers napping and Matty Robson floated an inviting centre which was met by the head of Sean O’Hanlon, who powered a header towards goal but Collin was on-hand to deny his former club with a superb reflex save.
With half-time approaching, Miller dragged a shot harmlessly wide of the target before Townsend became the first to see yellow as he illegally challenged for a high ball with Richard Brindley.
The booking was given greater significance in first half stoppage time when Townsend received his second yellow card as he cynically upended Tubbs as Rotherham launched a quick counter and the referee had no hesitation in sending him for an early bath and give the Cumbrians an uphill task for the second half.
Half-time:- Rotherham United 0 Carlisle United 0
Following the restart, Carlisle were clearly intent on defending in numbers and Lee Frecklington had a shot from the edge of the box deflected over before Tubbs’ deft flick from the resultant corner saw Amos well-stationed on his own line.
Moments later, Rotherham made a lightning break following a rare foray forward by the visitors and Pringle released Tubbs, who worked a yard of space on Ehmer to advance menacingly into the box but from an acute angle, his left-footed effort struck the side netting.
On the hour mark, O’Hanlon powered a header narrowly over following James Berrett’s corner before Steve Evans’ reshuffled his frontline with Bolton loanee Tom Eaves and Dicko introduced to the fray.
Minutes later, Brindley blazed a wild effort over the bar before Eaves superbly controlled a long punt from Frecklington moments later but he fluffed his lines as he screwed an effort into the home faithful.
However, Dicko almost made himself an instant hero as he pounced on a loose ball before leaving Robson in his wake and after playing a tantalising centre across the danger area, Noble almost put the ball into his own net but a retreating defender was on-hand to clear the danger from near his own line.
From the resultant corner from Pringle, Carlisle failed to clear decisively and the ball fell invitingly into the path of Frecklington, whose snap shot from just inside the box was deflected narrowly wide of the target.
Minutes later, Chimbonda’s mistake gave Eaves a glimpse of goal and he drilled a low effort which had Amos at full stretch at his near post before the home side came within a whisker of the breakthrough when Agard was the quickest to react to Pringle’s inswinging corner but Amos showed great reflexes to keep out his point-blank effort.
With time running out, Eaves was inches away from connecting with a tantalising centre from Pringle before Miller tried his luck from distance for the visitors but the ball flew harmlessly over the bar.
The visitors then had Robson to thank for keeping parity as Morgan climbed highest to meet a Pringle corner but his looping header was cleared off the line by the Carlisle left-sided player.
However, the visitors almost snatched a smash-and-grab in stoppage time when fine interplay gave Miller a sight of goal but his drilled effort was superbly blocked at his near post by Collin.
Full-time:- Rotherham United 0 Carlisle United 0
Teams:- Rotherham- Collin, Brindley, Arnason, Morgan, Skarz, Agard, O’Connor, Frecklington, Pringle, Tubbs (Dicko 63), Revell (Eaves 63). Unused:- Shearer, Davis, Mills, Milsom, Tidser.
Carlisle- Amos, Townsend, Robson, Noble, Miller, Thirlwell, Symington (Amoo 73), Berrett, O’Hanlon, Ehmer, Chimbonda. Unused:- Fleming, Livesey, Gillies, Potts, Beck, Guy.
Referee:- M Brown
Attendance:- 7520 (564).