KIERAN Agard’s 18th goal of the season gave Rotherham United’s promotion push a shot in the arm as they extended their unbeaten run to 13 games after putting play-off rivals Peterborough United to the sword.
The Millers extended their fine run of form of late after Agard struck from the spot in first-half stoppage time after he was felled by Ben Nugent in the box.
Following their last-gasp equaliser against Walsall last weekend, the Millers made two changes to their starting-line up with Nicky Adams rewarded for his late cameo against the Saddlers by being granted his first start for Steve Evans’ men.
Newcastle loanee James Tavernier returned to the side in the right-back slot at the expense of Mark Bradley, who has been ruled out for the remainder of the season due to a knee injury.
The Millers were quick out of the blocks and both Lee Freckington and Alex Revell had pot shots at goal blocked before Ben Pringle’s delicate cross was diverted by Nugent towards his own goal before Posh ‘keeper Bobby Olejnik snuffed out the danger.
At the other end, Conor Washington’s mazy run almost gave him a sight of goal but Millers’ skipper Craig Morgan was on-hand with a timely tackle before Britt Assombalonga was inches away from connecting with a dangerous Nicky Ajose cross in the next phase of play.
Just before the quarter hour, Frecklington and Adams combined cleverly before the former turned on a sixpence to deliver a teasing centre which saw Revell climb highest but he failed to trouble the home goal with his downward header.
Minutes later, Peterborough failed to clear decisively and Richard Smallwood’s slide-ruled pass paved the way for Tavernier, to advance menacingly before fizzing an effort from distance which had Olejnik nervously scurrying across goal but it whistled past the upright.
The Millers had ‘keeper Adam Collin to thank for keeping the scores level when Mark Little got the better of Pringle on the touchline to pull the ball back into the path of the on-rushing Washington, whose first time effort had the ex-Carlisle stopper at full stretch as he diverted it wide of the post following a smart save.
Minutes later, Little fizzed an effort across the face of goal before Agard blazed over following good work by Adams at the other end.
Just shy of the half-hour, Nugent was the first to see yellow after he hauled down Agard before Revell almost latched onto a flick-on from Agard moments later but Olejnik was well-stationed to snuff out the danger.
With neither side on top, Tavernier tried his luck from distance but his effort screwed wide of the target before Adams showed fleet of foot to work a shooting position but he curled his effort over the bar.
Revell became the latest to be cautioned following a show of dissent but the ex-Orient striker almost went from villain to hero moments later when he was the quickest to react in the box when Tavernier played a tantalising cross into the centre but his towering header narrowly cleared the crossbar.
With half-time approaching, Rotherham stunned the home faithful by breaking the deadlock with the last kick of the half.
Smallwood injected pace into the visitors move and following smart passes from Agard and Tavernier on the right flank, the former got on the wrong side of Nugent, who bundled him over in the box and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
The ex-Yeovil striker dusted himself down and kept his composure from the resultant penalty when he smashed the ball into the heart of the goal.
Half-time:- Peterborough United 0 Rotherham United 1
Following the restart, Agard agonisingly failed to latch onto a Pringle throughball when he raced on goal before Joe Skarz had to be alert at the far post to divert an Assombalonga cross behind the goal at the other end.
Moments later, Adams tried a speculative effort from distance which failed to trouble Olejnik before the ex-Crawley winger missed a guilt-edged chance to double the visitors’ advantage.
A long punt forward was flicked on by Revell into the path of Pringle, who struck a first time cross across the Posh backline which found Adams in acres of space, but despite looking a certain scorer, Olejnik tipped his scuffed effort around the post.
The Millers’ were almost made to rue that miss when Ajose’s clipped ball saw Washington get on the wrong side of Tavernier to advance on goal but Collin stood up superbly to block his goalbound effort.
Minutes later, Assombalonga blasted over the bar after the Millers’ failed to clear before Adams left sub Grant McCann in a trance before floating a cross which saw Revell head goalwards but Olejnik was well-stationed to collect smartly on his own line.
With the game on a knife edge, Pringle curled an effort over the bar from the edge of the box before Ajose got the better of Agard to float a delicate cross which saw Little climb highest but his towering header was deflected over the bar.
With time running out, Assombalonga headed over from sub Lloyd Isgrove’s centre before the Posh striker struck a fierce effort which was deflected by a retreating Kari Arnason moments later as the Millers’ held on to continue their fine form on the road.
Full-time:- Peterborough United 0 Rotherham United
Teams:- Peterborough- Olejnik, Alcock, Baldwin, Bostwick, Assombalonga, Rowe (Isgrove 74), Ajose, Nugent (McCann 46), Washington, Little, McQuoid (Swanson 46). Unused:- Day, Brisley, Payne, Knight-Percival.
Rotherham- Collin, Skarz, Arnason, Frecklington, Revell, Pringle, Morgan, Agard, Tavernier, Smallwood, Adams (Hitchcock 69). Unused:- Shearer, Davis, O’Connor, Milsom, Addison, Vuckic.
Referee:- C Berry