TEN-MAN Rotherham United exited the FA Cup at the second round stage as Rochdale launched a second-half comeback to claim the scalp of Steve Evans’ men.
The home side took a stranglehold on the tie when Lee Frecklington broke the deadlock early on but Matthew Done brought the Lancastrians back on level terms just shy of the hour mark.
The League Two outfit were sniffing blood when Michael Tidser was sent off for two bookable offences and Peter Vincenti sealed their spot in the third round hat with a late strike.
Following their impressive victory over Gillingham last weekend, the Millers were forced to reshuffle the squad as loanees Noura Dicko and James Tavernier were refused permission to play by their parent clubs, Wigan and Newcastle respectively.
Richard Brindley and Mark Bradley were recalled into the starting line-up with the former playing in a more advanced position on the right flank while hot-shot Kieran Agard was paired with Alex Revell in a new look Millers’ strikeforce.
Following a slow start to the game, Rotherham made the breakthrough on six minutes with their first attack of note in the visitors’ half.
Following a Rochdale corner, Adam Collin collected with a minimum of fuss before releasing Agard on the left flank and despite being seemingly crowded out, Ashley Eastham prodded the ball back towards his own goal and Frecklington was gifted with the opportunity to strike on goal and the ex-Peterborough midfielder kept his nerve to calmly slide the ball past the outstretched hand of Josh Lillis into the bottom corner of the goal.
The home side were lifted by the strike and after Frecklington robbed Gary Dicker in possession, Agard was tripped in full flow by Oliver Lancashire resulting in a yellow card for the visitors’ skipper.
From the resultant free-kick, Ben Pringle curled a delightful effort which sailed narrowly over the bar.
In the next phase of play, Lillis completely scuffed his clearance and Agard was presented with an opportunity to advancing menacingly on goal but under pressure from Lancashire, Lillis was able to redeem himself to snuff out the danger.
Minutes later, Agard was again in the thick of the action when he got the better of Bennett on the left flank before working a yard of space on Eastham to strike a low drive which was smothered by Lillis.
The home side were looking the most likely and Pringle swung a tantalising free-kick which was met by the head of Bradley, but he couldn’t control his header as it looped over the bar.
The Millers then came within a whisker of doubling their advantage when Joe Skarz floated a ball forward and Agard beat the offside trap and despite keeping his nerve to round Lillis, former Rotherham loanee Jack O’Connell made a superb last-ditch tackle to prevent Agard slotting the ball into the unguarded net.
The visitors were struggling to find their rhythm and gaffer Keith Hill scrapped his five-man backline as he hauled off Lancashire and reverted to a 4-4-2 in a bid to halt Rotherham’s momentum.
Just shy of the half-hour mark, Brindley harshly saw yellow for bundling over Dicker before a fine flowing move by the Millers’ ended with Revell firing a weak effort from the edge of the box which was comfortably gathered by Lillis.
Moments later, Tidser became the second home player to find himself in the referee’s notebook as he prevented Matt Done from launching a visitors counter-attack before the Millers’ had faint appeals for a spot kick minutes later when Agard was seemingly bundled over by O’Connell in the box but the referee waved their protests.
With half-time approaching, Agard made a driving run towards the edge of the box before firing a low drive through a ruck of bodies which was smothered by Lillis.
Half-time:- Rotherham United 1 Rochdale 0
Following the restart, the visitors were quick out of the blocks and Ian Henderson cut inside menacingly before playing a reverse pass which saw Scott Hogan beat the offside trap but as he beared down on goal, Collin narrowed his options as he blocked his goalbound effort.
Minutes later, the home side lost possession and Lund played a slide-rule ball down the right touchline and despite Hogan looking yards offside, he was allowed to latch onto the ball but as he advanced on goal, his effort with the outside of his boot failed to trouble Collin as it whistled well wide of the target.
At the other end, a long punt forward found Agard one-on-one with O’Connell before the ex-Yeovil striker struck a low effort which was deflected narrowly wide of the target.
However, a rejuvenated Dale stunned the home faithful by levelling matters on 55 minutes.
Michael Rose swung a fantastic centre which bisected the Rotherham centre halves and Lund ghosted in unmarked to guide the ball into the net from the point-blank range giving Collin no chance.
The Millers responded well to the setback and Agard won a personal duel with O’Connell to strike goalwards forcing Lillis into a smart save before Rose stung the palms of Collin with a fierce drive through a ruck of bodies at the other end.
Just past the hour mark, O’Connell shrugged off the attentions of Agard before firing a fearsome effort from distance which Collin parried into the air before snatching at the second attempt before Frecklington failed to trouble Lillis with a weak effort following a home counter-attack.
With the tie in the balance, the Millers’ cause was not helped with 16 minutes to go when they were reduced to ten men when Tidser’s backflick saw him converged by two visiting players and as one attempted to breakaway, the Scottish midfielder brought him down leaving the referee no option but to brandish a second yellow card.
The home side were becoming increasingly frustrated and Frecklington was cautioned for dissent before Rochdale made the decisive strike with seven minutes remaining.
The visitors picked up possession on the left flank and substitute Joe Bunney curled a fantastic centre to the far post and Peter Vincenti got on the wrong side of Skarz before steering the ball into the bottom corner of the goal.
Lund became the latest to see yellow when he hacked down Frecklington before Pringle had Rotherham’s last chance of note when he curled a free-kick around the visitors’ wall but it flashed into the side netting.
Full-time:- Rotherham United 1 Rochdale 2
Teams:- Rotherham- Collin, Brindley (Davis 76), Arnason, Morgan, Skarz, Bradley, Tidser, Frecklington, Pringle, Agard, Revell. Unused:- Shearer, Worrall, Rowe.
Rochdale:- Lillis, Bennett, Eastham, Lancashire (Vincenti 22), Hogan (Allen 87), Lund, Done (Bunney 78), O’Connell, Rose, Dicker, Henderson. Unused:- Thomson, Cavanagh, Rafferty, Tutte, Allen.
Referee:- G Scott
Attendance:- 4957 (497).