ROTHERHAM UNITED extended their unbeaten record to 11 games as they eased to a comfortable victory over relegation-haunted Oldham Athletic to maintain their League One promotion push.
Following a steady start at Boundary Park, Mark Bradley’s second goal of the season put Steve Evans’ men in control at the break before Lee Frecklington’s piledriver just past the hour mark sealed the deal for the Millers.
Following their weekend break due to Sheffield United’s involvement in the FA Cup, the Millers returned to league action by making two changes to their starting line-up with Kari Arnason returning to the Millers’ rearguard following international duty with Iceland at the expense of Miles Addison, who dropped to the bench.
Bradley returned to the right-back slot as Newcastle loanee James Tavernier was given a role further forward with top-scorer Kieran Agard filling one of the striker berths alongside Alex Revell.
For the home side, David Worrall was ineligible to play against his parent club while one time Millers goalie Mark Oxley was between the sticks for the Latics.
Following a slow start, John-Paul Kissock’s threaded ball almost put Charlie MacDonald in the clear but Bradley was on-hand to snuff out the danger.
At the other end, Agard got the better of Jonathan Grounds on the byline to force back-to-back Rotherham corners, with Arnason latterly glancing a header wide of the target from Ben Pringle’s delivery.
Minutes later, Revell climbed highest from Arnason’s long-throw paving the way for Agard to have a glimpse of goal before he was ushered away from the ball by David Mellor but the referee waved away visiting appeals for a spot-kick.
Just before the quarter hour, Arnason rose highest to meet another Pringle inswinger but he failed to trouble Oxley before Rhys Turner got the better of Craig Morgan at the other end before floating a delicate cross which Joe Skarz had to divert behind.
In the next phase of play, Gary Harkins fired a skimming cross which saw Adam Lockwood execute a clever flick which fortunately for the Millers was straight down the throat of Adam Collin before James Wesolowski stung the palms of the ex-Carlisle stopper with a snap shot moments later.
However, against the run of play, the visitors broke the deadlock just shy of the half hour when the Latics failed to clear a Rotherham corner and Richard Smallwood worked a yard of space on Kissock to fire a bobbling effort from the edge of the box which, bounced awkwardly infront of Oxley and the ball was deflected into the path of Bradley, who made no mistake to steer the ball into the bottom corner of the goal.
The Millers were lifted by the strike and they came within inches of doubling their advantage with their next attack when Revell ghosted in at the far post to meet an enticing Pringle corner and a combination of the post and a well-stationed defender cleared the danger.
The visitors were sniffing blood and after Pringle beat the offside trap, his tantalising ball across the face of goal gave Agard an opportunity to strike on goal but he bizarrely failed to make contact despite having the goal at his mercy.
Minutes later, Agard was tripped on the edge of the box and from the resultant free-kick, Tavernier curled a rasping effort which was spilled by a nervous looking Oxley, but with no Rotherham player following up, the Latics were able to clear their lines.
With half-time approaching, Oldham wasted an opportunity to equalise when Harkins launched a hopeful ball forward which was not dealt with decisively by Skarz and MacDonald pounced to advance menacingly on goal but Collin stood up tall to block his drilled effort on goal.
The home side came within a whisker of levelling matters in stoppage time when Harkins’ dipping effort was parried by Collin and the ball fell invitingly into the path of MacDonald but he blazed his effort over when it looked easier to score.
Half-time:- Oldham Athletic 0 Rotherham United 1
Following the restart, the Latics had the first sight of goal when a delicate cross was met by the head of Turner, but his bullet header was smartly gathered by Collin.
Moments later, Bradley became the first to see yellow when he bundled over Harkins after being deceived by a clever piece of skill by the home player.
Just shy of hour mark, Pringle’s arrowed ball forward saw Oxley collide with a home defender as the ball sailed narrowly wide of the target before the home stopper punched clear from the ex-Derby midfielder’s resultant corner.
With neither side on top, Rotherham took a decisive grip on the encounter when they doubled their advantage on 64 minutes thanks to Frecklington’s 12th goal of the campaign.
There looked little danger when Pringle fought hard to win possession before playing the ball inside to the on-rushing Frecklington, who ignored the advances of Tavernier on the right flank, before unleashing a rasping drive from 25 yards which gathered pace as it fizzed into the roof of the net giving Oxley no chance.
The home side’s frustration was evident when Mellor hacked down Agard in full flow to earn himself a caution before MacDonald brought the best out of Collin, when his instinctive effort was arrowing into the top corner until the away ‘keeper’s late acrobatic intervention.
At the other end, Tavernier worked tirelessly to win the ball before releasing Revell, who struggled to get the ball out of his feet to give Agard a sight of goal but his tame effort failed to trouble Oxley.
With time running out, Morgan became the next to see yellow for hauling down sub Kirk Millar as the Millers ran down the clock to stroll to their 11th away victory of the season.
Full-time:- Oldham Athletic 0 Rotherham United 2
Teams:- Oldham- Oxley, Grounds, Wesolowski, Smith, MacDonald (Millar 85), Mellor, Wilson, Lockwood, Kissock (Winchester 58), Turner (Philliskirk 58), Harkins. Unused:- Brown, Dudfield, Rachubka, Byrnes.
Rotherham- Collin, Skarz, Arnason, Frecklington (Addison 90), Revell, Bradley (O’Connor 86), Pringle (Adams 87), Morgan, Agard, Tavernier, Smallwood. Unused:- Shearer, Davis, Vuckic, Hitchcock.
Referee:- Darren Bond (Lancashire)
Attendance:- 3,745 (1,119)