PROMOTED Wolverhampton Wanderers withstood a stirring second-half fightback from the Millers to edge a ten-goal thriller at Molineux.
Nouha Dicko came back to haunt his former club with a well-taken hat-trick before Kieran Agard matched his feat to seemingly give the Millers a point near the end.
However, in a see-saw battle, Sam Ricketts and Kevin McDonald broke Rotherham hearts with late strikes in the dying minutes to leave Steve Evans’ men empty-handed despite a battling display.
Following their televised draw with Bradford City last weekend, the Millers just made one change to their starting line-up with Slovenian international Haris Vuckic being recalled to the side at the expense of Ben Pringle, who dropped to the bench.
With the kick-off delayed by ten minutes because of traffic delays, the home side had the first sight of goal when Michael Jacobs’ mazy run had the Rotherham rearguard on the backfoot until he was clumsily bundled over by Nicky Adams on the edge of the box.
From the resultant free-kick, Jacobs floated an inviting centre which saw Dave Edwards climb highest at the far post but he blazed his point-blank header over the bar.
Minutes later, Wolves turned defence into attack with the blink of an eye and following good work by ex-Millers loanee Dicko, Bakary Sako drilled a cross-cum-shot which flew harmlessly wide of the target.
The home side were looking the most likely and after Rotherham failed to clear decisively, ex-Sheffield United midfielder McDonald floated a tantalising centre which saw Dicko beat the offside trap but he was inches away from making a clean connection with the goal gaping.
However, the Millers stunned the home faithful when they broke the deadlock with their first foray of note.
After Agard was tripped by Scott Golbourne, Michael O’Connor swung over a centre which found Craig Morgan at the far post and the Millers’ skipper put the ball back into the danger area and after Alex Revell shielded the ball, Adams struck a snap shot which was deflected over the bar.
However, the home side’s relief was only temporary as from the resultant corner, O’Connor planted a superb centre which was met by the head of Agard, who directed a downward header into the corner of the goal.
The Millers were visibly lifted by the breakthrough but their joy soon turned to despair as Wanderers equalised soon after when Edwards’ clever inside pass took James Tavernier out of the game and Sako played an incisive centre across the box and Dicko got infront of Joe Skarz to bundle the ball home from point-blank range.
Just past the half-hour mark, Wolves took a stranglehold on the game when they took the lead following a period when neither side were on top.
There looked little danger when Sam Ricketts picked up the ball on the right flank but his threaded ball was latched upon by Dicko, and despite the Rotherham defence appealing for offside, their protests fell on deaf ears and the diminutive striker kept his nerve to calmly slide the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
Infront of a raucous crowd, the home side were sniffing blood and they extended their lead four minutes later when Golbourne pounced on the loose ball to advance menacingly towards the visitors’ box and his eye-of-a-needle pass bisected the Rotherham defence and a superb-timed run by Edwards saw the ex-Wales international calmly slide the ball past the onrushing Adam Collin into the corner of the goal.
With half-time approaching, Adams was hauled over by Ricketts in full flow but Tavernier wasted the opportunity from the resultant free-kick when his effort harmlessly cleared the home crossbar.
Half-time:- Wolverhampton Wanderers 3 Rotherham United 1
Following the restart, the Millers came within a whisker of reducing the arrears when Vuckic got the better of McDonald before firing a rasping drive which Carl Ikeme was forced to tip over the bar.
From the resultant corner, O’Connor and Adams combined to float a ball to the back post which Morgan lofted back into the danger area but Vuckic failed to get power behind his header as Ikeme collected on his line with a minimum of fuss.
Minutes later, Adams swung a deep corner to the far post which saw Kari Arnason climb highest but the Icelandic international could not direct his header as it flashed past the upright.
The home side were struggling to find their first-half rhythm and Adams ghosted past Jacobs and James Henry with a minimum of fuss before angling a shot which had Ikeme at full stretch before a fine flowing move by the Millers paved the way for Tavernier to drag a shot across the face of goal moments later.
However, the Millers’ were rewarded for their pressure just past the hour mark when a hopeful punt into the box was not cleared by the home rearguard and Agard pounced on the loose ball before working a yard of space to scuff a shot through a ruck of bodies and into the corner of the goal.
With the game in the balance, Jacobs launched a fantastic counter attack and with the Rotherham defence in retreat, his timely pass released Bako, who in turn gave Dicko a shooting opportunity but Collin stood up tall to block his goalbound effort.
Tavernier became the first to see yellow after tugging the shirt of Jacobs as he looked to counter quickly before Ricketts’ bizarrely saw the Millers’ defence open up infront of him before cutting inside to dribble a shot which struck the upright.
The game seemingly took a decisive twist with ten minutes to go when Adams’ incisive run and cross saw Agard control smartly before firing an effort which was deflected narrowly wide by a retreating home defender.
In the next phase of play, Wanderers thought they had killed the game when they launched a lightning quick counter attack and the ball found the rampaging Edwards on the right flank, who played a superb centre which saw Dicko ghost to the near post to sweep the ball home giving Collin no chance.
However, the Millers were not to be beaten and there looked little danger when Adams’ foraging run had Wolves on the backfoot and the ex-Crawley winger found a yard of space to dig out a cross and Skarz ghosted in the box to volley home giving Ikeme no chance.
The visitors were sniffing an opportunity to claim a point and they were rewarded for their fantastic second half when Tavernier cut inside Price to drill an effort across the box and Agard stuck out a foot to divert the ball goalwards and with Ikeme wrongfooted, the ball rolled into the empty net.
However, Wolves broke the Millers hearts just a minute later when the home side attacked with menace and Ricketts’ cut inside before unleashing a fantastic left-footed effort which arrowed into the roof of the net giving Collin no chance.
In the final seconds of the game, Wolves punted the ball forward and Dicko attempted to wriggle past Richard Smallwood, who initially held him back, but the referee played advantage and the ex-Wigan striker played a tantalising ball into the path of McDonald, who kept his composure to strike high into the roof of the net to spark a pitch invasion by the jubilant home fans.
Full-time:- Wolverhampton Wanderers 6 Rotherham United 4
Wolves- Ikeme, Edwards (Doherty 90), Stearman, Batth, Sako (Price 69), McDonald, Evans (Henry 46), Ricketts, Golbourne, Jacobs, Dicko. Unused:- McCarey, Clarke, McAlinden, Ebanks-Landell.
Rotherham- Collin, Skarz, Arnason, Revell (Thomas 65), Morgan, Agard, Tavernier, Vuckic (Pringle 68), Smallwood, Adams, O’Connor (Hitchcock 77). Unused:- Shearer, Brindley, Davis, Milsom.