KIERAN Agard was the Rotherham United hero as his last-gasp strike saw Steve Evans’ men maintain their fine run of form on the road by grabbing a vital 2-1 victory over Carlisle United.
Wes Thomas notched his third goal of his loan spell to put the visitors’ infront before Lee Miller pegged back the Millers on the stroke of half-time.
As both sides looked to settle for share of the spoils, Agard popped up in injury-time to give Rotherham their fourth win on the spin.
Following their victory over Stevenage last weekend, the Millers made just one change to their starting line-up with Joe Skarz recalled at the expense of Mark Bradley, who was ruled out because of a back injury.
‘Keeper Adam Collin was making a return to his home town and former club between the sticks for the visitors while ex-Premiership star Pascal Chimbonda was a notable starter for the Cumbrians.
The Millers were quick out of the blocks and Ben Pringle floated a tantalising corner which saw Agard climb highest but his header blazed over the bar.
Minutes later, Kari Arnason’s floated ball over the top looked inviting for the onrushing Thomas but Jordan Pickford was on his toes to snuff out the danger.
The Millers were looking the most likely in the early stages and Pringle fired a crisp shot from the edge of the box which stung the palms of Pickford before Thomas missed a guilt-edged chance to break the deadlock when Claude Davis flicked on an Arnason throw but the Bournemouth loanee fluffed his lines when he scuffed his point-blank effort wide of the target.
In the home side’s first foray of note, Liam Noble’s delicate ball split open the visitors’ rearguard but Brad Potts failed to make a clear connection as he beat the offside trap, leaving Collin to collect at the second attempt.
Minutes later, Pringle’s corner had the Carlisle defence at sixes and sevens as a retreating defender headed back towards his own goal before Noble’s sweeping pass saw David Amoo torment Skarz before drilling a low effort from just inside the box which shaved the far post.
In the next phase of play, Collin’s punt saw Agard put Thomas in the clear but he blasted over the bar when he had the goal at his mercy before the visitors’ deservedly broke the deadlock after 24 minutes.
Following a home attack, Lee Frecklington punted the ball upfield and under pressure from Thomas, Pickford and Matty Robson collided leaving all three players on the floor, but Thomas reacted quickest to pounce on the loose ball before sliding the ball past Sean O’Hanlon, who raced in vain to guard the home goal.
The visitors were buoyed by the breakthrough and Agard pounced on defensive hesitancy to spoon an effort wide of the target before Alex Revell superbly cushioned a Frecklington through ball on his chest but he blasted over when he should have done better.
Minutes later, Agard was almost the grateful recipient of home nerves when Pickford and Robson dallied for the second time paving the way for the visitors’ top-scorer to nip in but his toe-poked effort towards goal was cleared by a retreating defender.
With half-time approaching, James Tavernier’s free kick was met by the head of Revell, who looped a header which narrowly cleared the crossbar before Pringle fired a rasping drive from distance which brought the best of Pickford, who superbly palmed the ball over the crossbar.
However, the home side stunned the Millers by equalising with the last kick of the half after Skarz was penalised for a needless foul on halfway.
After Rotherham failed to clear from the resultant free-kick, Carlisle penned the visitors’ deep into their own area and Miller showed great acrobatics to hoick the ball goalwards despite having his back to goal and Collin was helpless as the ball found the corner of the net.
Half-time:- Carlisle United 1 Rotherham United 1
Following the restart, Chimbonda’s error was pounced upon by Richard Smallwood, whose clever reverse pass looked to release Thomas, but he was too flat-footed to capitalise before Agard dragged a low shot harmlessly wide of the target after the home side failed to clear.
Minutes later, Frecklington’s perfectly-weighted pass saw Thomas get the better of his marker before advancing menacingly on goal but Pickford stood up tall to block his poked effort before Pringle wasted the opportunity from the rebound as he was crowded out.
Frecklington then blasted over before Rotherham had faint appeals for a spot kick when Charni Ekangamene ushered Agard off the ball near the by-line but the referee waved away their protests.
Davis became the first to see yellow for an innocuous foul on halfway before Arnason joined him in the book soon after for hauling down Amoo in full flight but the home side failed to make the Millers pay when Robson fired the resultant free-kick over the bar.
Following a period of home pressure, Danny Redmond fizzed an effort over the bar before Chimbonda’s marauding run had the Millers on the backfoot paving the way for Potts to fire over from the egde of the box.
Courtney Mappen-Walter became the latest to see yellow when he hauled back Revell off the ball before Davis needlessly tugged back Miller on the edge of the box at the other end.
To the Millers’ relief, Potts blasted harmlessly wide from the resultant free-kick before Davis was in the thick of the action at the other end when he blasted over from close range, but any goal would have chalked off for an earlier infringement.
With the game in the balance, sub Nicky Adams failed to make clean contact when Pringle’s shot rebounded into his path before the Millers’ stunned the home side by grabbing the winner in stoppage time.
There looked little danger when Revell picked up possession on the right flank but his low whipped cross saw Agard get a yard on his marker before deftly flicking the ball past the outstretched hand of Pickford into the heart of the home goal.
Full-time:- Carlisle United 1 Rotherham United 2
Teams:- Carlisle- Pickford, Robson, Amoo, Noble (Byrne 68), Miller, Ekangamene, Potts, O’Hanlon, Redmond (Novo 78), Meppen-Walter, Chimbonda. Unused:- Chantler, Symington, Fleming, Brough, Guy.
Rotherham- Collin, Skarz, Arnason, Davis, Frecklington, Revell, Pringle, Agard (O’Connor 90), Thomas (Adams 75), Tavernier, Smallwood. Unused:- Shearer, Brindley, Addison, Vuckic, Hitchcock.
Referee:- S Martin
Attendance:- 4293 (688).